Changing the World
Welcome to another edition of Riding in Cars With Researchers! I am Dr. Jeff Kingsley and I want to change the world! We are doing a two-part series about changing the world. In this episode, we are talking about high-quality research protocols that go off the tracks.
Sometimes there is great research that actually doesn’t produce the result we wanted to find. It doesn’t give us the answer that we sought simply due to the inefficiencies in research today. A perfect example of that just happened approximately two months ago. Cardiac stents are collapsible straws that you can put in an artery, and when expanded it holds the artery wider so you can include blood flow to the heart muscle. We have decades worth of great data to show that patients that are acutely ill, patients who are having a heart attack, patients who are having chest pain, greatly improve with cardiac stenting. But there is conflicting data on patients who aren’t acutely ill right that minute. We can see that the patient has a blockage, they have hardening of the arteries, but are not symptomatic. There is conflicting data on whether or not putting cardiac stenting in improves their outcome.
Inefficiencies in Research
In 2011, some brilliant researchers designed a well-designed protocol to give us the definitive answer to the question, “Should we put stents in asymptotic patients who have a blockage?” They received funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and after five years of trying they had only found 5,000 patients for their research trial. They needed 8,000 patients. After 5,000 patients they had to change their research protocol. They were looking for patients from all over the United States. Millions of patients who could meet the criteria for this research trial. After five long years of trying, and lots of money, they had to change the scientific protocol to be able to be able to salvage some benefit from all that work as they were running out of time and money.
How Inefficiencies Hurt Research
Why did this happen? Simply because of the inefficiencies of research. They didn’t have enough physician or patient participation. That inefficiency forced them o change the trial design. The only way we solve these mysteries of healthcare and find the definitive answers we need to learn how to treat patients so we improve lives is through this research process. And here is a perfect example of a trial that was well designed and went off the rails, not because of there not being enough patients in the US to meet criteria, but because of the inefficiencies, we fight every single day in the research world.
How do we change the world? By getting these answers. How do we get these answers? By improving the research trial process. That excites me and that is what I want to do. I can’t change the world by myself, but if we all try, we can. If we all try, we change patients lives around the world.
Do you want to help change the world? Jump in the car, let’s go for a ride! Thanks for riding along!
Send me topics you want me to talk about at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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