CRO goes digital: Center Point launches first siteless service

Center Point just launched the world’s first siteless CRO. (Photo courtesy of Center for Connected Health Policy)

We’ve already heard about remote healthcare, and how it can boost communication between a patient and a provider, saving time and cost. Now. Center Point Clinical Services is trying to translate those advantages into clinical research.

The Minnetonka, Minnesota-based CRO just launched the world’s first siteless CRO, which utilizes digital communication tools combined with personal service of registered, well-trained pharmacists to monitor and coordinate the clinical trial process.

Current clinical trial practices are usually geographically based at specific sites, but up to 70% of trials participants might not have convenient access to them, and different sites’ speed of communication and costs to manage patients can vary considerably, said Joe Martinez, CEO of Center Point.

Inherent to the site-based model is also influence from human factors, including delay and inaccuracy in communication, Martinez added. With assistance from some real-time digital technologies like GPS, wearable medical devices that monitor vital signs and video conferencing, Center Point’s model touts a more direct and complete access to trial data, which makes it easier to keep record of trial participants’ activities.

This is particularly helpful for studies where the therapies do not absolutely require many face-to-face office visits, and when the patients recruited are located in remote areas, or whose mobility is constrained because of diseases such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s. It means that the ordinary burden of making to 10 or more office visits during the trial phase for these patients could be lifted.

With a CRO process without the presence of a perceivable site, “[s]tudy sponsors are able to reach and maintain excellent communication with trial participants, wherever they are, as well as secure and retain reliable data that can be instantly accessed and shared,” said Martinez.

Martinez predicted that the new model has a potential to save about 60% in clinical trial costs and averagely speaking 10 to 12 months in terms of time needed for clinical trials, which can further reduce costs.

First conceived by Gerald Finken as a subdivision of his clinical supplies company CSM Inc. in 2001 and later became a stand-alone company in 2014, Center Point is based on the Clinical Trials Research Pharmacist program, which enrolls pharmacists in different geographic regions to recruit and communicate with patients. The program has serviced clients in 27 clinical trials and nutraceutical field studies, and has successfully managed 30,000 patient calls, according to Martinez.

Right now, with the launch of the siteless services, Center Point is looking to expand both its internal team and global influence externally. With a focus on neurodegenerative disease, diabetes and global nutraceutical health companies’ studies, Martinez is planning to recruit pharmacists and partner with local companies in EU and Middle East by the first quarter of next year, in South America and India by the third quarter, and other parts of Asia early in 2018.

Besides its plan to increase in-house pharmacists by 65% in the first quarter of next year, Center Point is also looking for talents to fill several official positions, including a director for clinical operations and outcomes, and a director of clinical trials and operations. CFO and VP of commercial operations is also expected to be announced in the second quarter for its upcoming financing initiatives.