Hello, I’m Dr. Jeff Kingsley. Welcome to another edition of Riding in Cars with Researchers. I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Joe Surber today. Dr. Surber is Chief Medical Officer of IACT Health and has been participating in research in one form or another since residency.
Dr. Surber, with your lengthy experience in clinical research, what advice would you give to doctors considering participation? Why do you participate? Why do you think others should participate?
Research is something that I think every physician, every provider should participate in, in some capacity. I think it boils down to the reason that we all went into the field – we make medicine better and we make lives better for our patients. And this, in my estimation, is the best way that we can be involved in this. Research is something that keeps us on the forefront of medicine, keeps our skills sharp which is obviously excellent for patients and excellent for practices. It just makes medicine better.
Let’s start with keeping our skills sharp. I don’t think the general public realizes that most doctors stop learning after residency. It’s unfortunate, but there are a lot of doctors that really don’t stay up on the cutting edge in their field. And 20 years after residency training, they’re still practicing based on what they learned 20 years earlier. Very unfortunate, not true of all doctors, but true of many. Why does research help you remain a great doctor long after residency training?
You know, it’s hard. It is definitely hard if you are in an office setting and you’re seeing four or five patients an hour, you’ve got walk-ins, papers to sign, and insurance issues. Your day is full and you have a stack of journals that continually piles up next to your desk. In an ideal world, you block time to sit down and read these and to see what the newest best treatment for diabetes or for congestive heart failure, etc. is. Most doctors, unfortunately, get stuck in the rut of a practice. Are they bad doctors? No, absolutely not. But are they able to keep up with everything that is coming out in real-time? No, probably not. With research, cutting-edge trials are brought to you and you are participating in the trial. So, if there’s a new class of blood pressure medicine, if there’s a new diabetes drug or new monoclonal antibody, not only do you potentially read about it in a journal, but you have real-world experience with it. It keeps you at the forefront, cutting-edge of your specific specialty.
There’s a cardiologist that’s been doing research with us coming up on 15 years now and many years ago, he was preparing for grand round to teach on cutting-edge anticoagulation. In preparing his talk, he reached out to us and said, “Hey, send me over all the protocols that I’ve been on in the last year or two”. And we sent them over to him and he was pleasantly surprised to realize that he knew all the information and did the research on all of the cutting-edge in the field, which is absolutely awesome. Another interesting factoid that I tell a lot of people: it’s been published in medical journals demonstrating that facilities that do research have better outcomes, even in the areas they didn’t do research in. So, a hospital that participates in clinical research actually has better outcomes even in their surgical department because research changes how people think.
Yes, it’s about mindset – processes, the way things are done. It’s a cultural change.
You made a bunch of points about why doctors should participate and how it helps them stay on the cutting edge. What about patients?
Patients are the central part of all of this! Research gives patients an option to participate in a modality that they otherwise may not have access to or would not have access to. Right? Before it’s approved, patients can’t get the drugs outside of a research protocol. If you’ve got somebody who needs X, Y, Z treatment, a lot of times the only way that they can get it is through a research protocol. The other part to that is being involved is completely cost-free to a patient. Patients don’t pay for any of it. Along those same lines, the care that somebody actually gets in a research trial is far and above what standard-of-care provides in terms of labs, x-rays, etc.
I feel like patients learn more about their own bodies and what’s going on with their disease. It’s free care. We don’t care if they have insurance. We care about taking care of a patient instead of a research protocol.
Going back to why we went into medicine, it’s about taking care of the patient, and this is the way we all wish that we could take care of patients in private practice, in the hospital setting, and wherever.
When you and I both got involved in research way back when we both had a foot in both worlds. We were in the normal healthcare system and in research at the same time. It was eye-opening how much better the care is of a person, the financial care, the healthcare, in research versus normal medicine.
So, anybody out there who’s a doctor considering getting in research, reach out to us. We’re happy to give you some guidance. We’re happy to discuss why you should and how you can. It’s not as hard as you might think as long as you’ve got good guidance and good support. It’s incredibly rewarding for you and your patients. Thank you for riding along and I look forward to seeing you again in the future. Take care!
Thanks for riding along!
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