June 28, 2019: Moving Beyond Return of Research Results to Return of Value (Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI)

Speaker

Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI
Vice President for Health Equity, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Executive Director, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Topic

Moving Beyond Return of Research Results to Return of Value

Keywords

Health outcomes; Research results; Patient preferences; Value of information

Key Points

  • In returning value to research participants, results are shared with added context, are prioritized by each participant, include specific suggestions for relevant actions, and incorporate participant recommendations and preferences.
  • Data captured for research purposes, including EHR data, vital signs, and genetic data, can be repurposed and reoriented for study participants.
  • Participants are more likely to trust research if results are returned—and they are more likely to participate again.

Discussion Themes

We need to return study results that are informed by participants, and we need to design approaches for accessing and understanding results that participants will want to use.

We should think carefully about risk mitigation when returning research results for which there is a clear next step or action for the participant.

Read more about understanding what information is valued by research participants in a recent article by Dr. Wilkins and colleagues in Health Affairs.

Tags

#pctGR, @Collaboratory1, @drchwilkins, @vumchealth

June 20, 2019: EMBED Investigators Discuss Progress and Transition to Implementation Phase

At the May 2019 meeting of the NIH Collaboratory Steering Committee, we talked with Drs. Ted Melnick and Gail D’Onofrio of EMBED, an NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Project, to hear about progress and challenges during the UG3 planning phase. The goal of EMBED is to test whether implementation of a user-centered clinical decision support system increases adoption of initiation of buprenorphine/naloxone into the routine emergency care of patients with opioid use disorder. In the UG3 phase, the study team put in place the infrastructure of a pragmatic, multicenter, parallel, group-randomized health IT intervention. EMBED recently transitioned to the UH3 implementation phase and plans to launch the intervention at 20 sites across 5 healthcare systems in August 2019.

“With EMBED, we’re trying to take evidence-based research and implement it to improve practice. EMBED is both a research and patient care project.”

Were there any surprises during the study’s planning phase?

The first surprise came at last year’s Steering Committee meeting, when we met with the Biostatistics and Study Design Core. They encouraged us to change our original study design from stepped-wedge to group-randomized, which we did. We think this advice led to a stronger study. The main reason for this is the group-randomized design’s ability to better account for temporal changes. Since our intervention is being conducted in the middle of an opioid crisis, there are potentially other concurrent interventions that could make it difficult to determine the effect of our intervention. The group-randomized design should give us better insight into whether our intervention is driving behavior change in treating patients with opioid use disorder.

What is an example of a challenge that you were able to overcome with the help of a Core Working Group?

In addition to design advice from the Biostatistics Core, we received expert guidance from the Ethics and Regulatory Core, who helped us prepare for the central IRB process. The Core’s input was essential to how we developed our protocol’s waiver of informed consent, data handling, and protection of patient privacy. We were able to demonstrate to the IRB that our approach was logical and informed. We think this helped the IRB “get it” and allowed us to more efficiently address patient privacy issues in a vulnerable population across multiple healthcare systems.

What other key challenges have you faced?

One challenge was on the IT side with electronic health record (EHR) integration, which required more customization than we initially planned. How we work with EHR vendors is evolving, and we’ve found good partners so that we can integrate across different systems. This has strengthened our intervention so that it is perceived as more universal than one designed only for a specific EHR system.

Another challenge is the general under-resourcing of healthcare delivery systems for pragmatic research. We found that, regardless of budget, getting approval from system leadership for an IT change is often not enough—what is needed is figuring out who is going to make the change, how much time is involved, and whether the team has the bandwidth to complete the task. You cannot underestimate the degree of difficulty a change poses to a health system that is still struggling to get the clinical side of things right.

The way a study is framed to leadership is important—understand what’s motivating them to participate and move a project forward. With EMBED, we’re trying to take evidence-based research and implement it to improve practice. EMBED is both a research and patient care project. We need to impress upon leadership that we can improve patient outcomes and we’ll pay for it, but we need their help and support in navigating the process through the institution.

What words of advice do you have for investigators conducting their first embedded PCT?

  • Study teams should think about potential barriers from the beginning and find solutions quickly.
  • Make sure that health system leadership discusses your project with those on the ground.
  • Enlist the experts your study needs for each site. In our case, we needed both an IT expert for the operational side and a clinical expert, or we couldn’t have moved the project forward.
  • Recognize that there are trade-offs in pragmatic design and remember that you’re working with health systems in which your intervention will need to be replicated.
  • Make your intervention sustainable and easily usable by the clinician, without the need for research or other additional staff.

EMBED is supported within the NIH Collaboratory by a cooperative agreement from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and receives logistical and technical support from the NIH Collaboratory Coordinating Center. Read more about EMBED in the Living Textbook, and learn more about the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects.

May 3, 2019: Effect of Financial Bonus Sizes, Loss Aversion, and Increased Social Pressure on Physician Pay-for-Performance: A Randomized Trial and Cohort Study (Amol Navathe, MD, PhD)

Speaker

Amol S. Navathe, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Health Policy
University of Pennsylvania

Topic

Effect of Financial Bonus Sizes, Loss Aversion, and Increased Social Pressure on Physician Pay-for-Performance: A Randomized Trial and Cohort Study

Keywords

Behavioral economics; Performance incentives; Evidence-based quality-of-care measures; Primary care quality; Pay for performance; Value-based medicine

Key Points

  • Pay-for-performance (P4P) programs are increasingly being used by health insurers and healthcare systems to incentivize physicians to practice higher value medicine, yet the evidence for P4P to affect quality and value of care remains mixed.
  • Behavioral economic principles in this study included increased social pressure and loss aversion added to larger bonus sizes to evaluate whether the intervention would lead to higher achievement of evidence-based quality measures.

Discussion Themes

Study findings included that, while a larger bonus size was associated with significantly improved quality for chronic care patients relative to a propensity-matched comparison group, adding increased social pressure and the opportunity for loss aversion did not lead to further quality improvement.

Attrition during the trial contributed some variability to the analysis.

Read more about pay for performance in healthcare in JAMA Network Open (Navathe et al, 2019) and NEJM Catalyst (2018).

Tags

#behavioraleconomics, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1

April 26, 2019: The VERITAS Trial: Virtual Exercise Rehabilitation at the Intersection of Evidence, Implementation, and Policy (Janet Prvu Bettger, ScD)

Speaker

Janet Prvu Bettger, ScD, FAHA
Associate Professor
Duke Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Duke Clinical Research Institute

Topic

The VERITAS Trial: Virtual Exercise Rehabilitation at the Intersection of Evidence, Implementation, and Policy

Keywords

Rehabilitation; Virtual physical therapy; Patient outcomes; Physical therapy; Orthopaedic surgery; Total knee replacement; Digital technology; Telehealth

Key Points

  • The VERITAS trial evaluated the effects of physical therapy–supported virtual exercise compared with traditional home- or clinic-based physical therapy after total knee replacement. Outcome measures included 90-day health service use costs; patient-centered outcomes; and differential improvement from 6 weeks to 3 months.
  • The Center for Connected Health Policy found that while most states currently have established telehealth policies for primary care providers, these often do not include physical or occupational therapists.
  • Tele-rehabilitation facilitates communication between the patient and physical therapist in real time. The VERA™ technology provides a virtual physical therapist assistant for patients and clinicians, offering a digital interface that includes patient education, longitudinal functional assessments, telehealth video conferencing, personalized exercises, and remote monitoring of patient progress.

Discussion Themes

Study results support effectiveness and safety hypotheses: that tele-rehabilitation is noninferior to traditional physical therapy with respect to range of motion, walking speed, pain, or rehospitalization. However, it was not shown that the intervention is noninferior with respect to falls after hospital discharge.

Because virtual physical therapy interventions can save total costs, prevent readmissions, and improve mobility, it will be important to expand access to tele-rehabilitation and to advance policies that include physical therapists.

Read more about the VERITAS project and at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Tags

#telehealth, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1

March 29, 2019: ICD-Pieces: Lessons Learned in an Ongoing Trial (Miguel Vazquez, MD, George (Holt) Oliver, MD, PhD)

Speakers

Miguel A. Vazquez, MD
Professor of Medicine
Clinical Chief Nephrology Division
UT Southwestern Medical Center

George (Holt) Oliver, MD, PhD
Vice President Clinical Informatics
Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation

Topic

ICD-Pieces: Lessons Learned in an Ongoing Trial

Keywords

Multiple chronic conditions; Chronic kidney disease; Hypertension; Diabetes; Pieces™; Electronic health record; Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation; Primary care; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Key Points

  • Improving Chronic Disease Management with Pieces™ (ICD-Pieces) is an NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Project that is implementing a novel technology platform (Pieces) to enable the use of electronic health record data in the management of chronic kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertension within primary care practices.
  • The aim of the study is to reduce hospitalizations, emergency department visits, readmissions, and cardiovascular events and deaths for patients with multiple chronic conditions.
  • ICD-Pieces is employing centralized clinical decision support across 4 large, diverse healthcare systems in addition to the use of Practice Facilitators within primary care.

Discussion Themes

In embedded pragmatic clinical trials conducted in real-world settings, it is important to anticipate changes over the course of the study, which could involve changes at every level, from staff turnover to changes in national policies or standards.

As one of the largest healthcare providers in the world for patients with chronic kidney disease, the VA has been an effective healthcare system partner in the ICD-Pieces trial.

When partnering with healthcare systems, it is important to align goals and plan together, minimize disruption, anticipate and adapt to changes, and create a sustainable foundation for future studies.

Learn more about ICD-Pieces on their website.

Tags

#pctGR, @Collaboratory1

March 5, 2019: New Living Textbook Section on Using Death as an Endpoint

Using death as an endpoint in pragmatic clinical trials is challenging because there are no standardized processes for ascertaining patient deaths in the United States. If a patient dies outside of a clinical care system, ascertaining if and how a death has occurred is considerably complicated. There are multiple sources of vital statistics data, each with different amounts of lag time, linking approaches, costs, and specificity of information. For example, some sources include cause of death while others include only fact of death; some have a lag time of a few months and some may take over a year; some charge by the individual file and some have an annual subscription fee.

This section of the Living Textbook describes different death data sources, how to obtain information from them, and the pros and cons of each.

“Death identification and adjudication may be more complicated with pragmatic clinical trials (PCTs) that rely on data collected from the patient’s electronic health record (EHR), medical claims, self-report, or medical devices.” —Eisenstein E, et al. Choosing and Specifying Endpoints and Outcomes: Using Death as an Endpoint. In: Rethinking Clinical Trials: A Living Textbook of Pragmatic Clinical Trials.

The sources of data described in this section include the Death Master File, the Medicare Master Beneficiary Summary File, state vital statistics, the Fact of Death File, the National Death Index, and call centers. The section also presents a case study to illustrate a hybrid death identification and verification approach used in the ToRsemide compArisoN with furoSemide FOR Management of Heart Failure (TRANSFORM-HF) PCT (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03296813).

 

February 21, 2019: Living Textbook Offers New Content on Design and Analysis of Pragmatic Clinical Trials

Members of the NIH Collaboratory’s Biostatistics and Study Design Core contributed 3 new sections to the Living Textbook exploring issues in the design and analysis of pragmatic clinical trials. The new sections offer insights into emerging issues in embedded pragmatic clinical trials and lessons learned from the NIH Collaboratory’s first round of Demonstration Projects.

  • The Designing to Avoid Identification Bias section addresses a type of selection bias that can occur in pragmatic clinical trials that use information from electronic health records to determine study population eligibility and in which the study intervention influences who undergoes screening or receives a diagnosis in clinical care.
  • The Alternative Cluster Randomized Designs section describes alternative design choices for cluster randomized trials and their implications for statistical power and sample size calculations. Modified cluster randomized designs, such as cluster randomization with crossover, may reduce the sample size required for a pragmatic clinical trial and may be particularly feasible in trials embedded in healthcare systems with electronic health records.
  • Case Study: STOP CRC Trial explores challenges in design and analysis that were faced in the Strategies and Opportunities to Stop Colorectal Cancer in Priority Populations (STOP CRC) trial, one of the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects. The case study illustrates how the study team dealt with pragmatic issues during the planning and conduct of the trial.

In addition to contributing content to the Living Textbook, the Biostatistics and Study Design Core works with the NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects to address challenges in their statistical plans and study designs during the planning phase and to develop guidance and technical documents related to study design and biostatistical issues relevant to pragmatic clinical trials.

February 15, 2019: Improving Qualification of Investigators: Recommendations from the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (Christine M. Hildebrand, PA-C, Janette Panhuis)

Speakers

Christine M. Hildebrand, PA-C
Physician Assistant
Sub-Investigator
Clinical Operations Lead
Amici Clinical Research

Janette Panhuis
Chief Operating Officer
Population Health Research Institute
David Braley Research Institute

Topic

Improving Qualification of Investigators: Recommendations from the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative

Keywords

CTTI; Investigator qualifications; Investigator training; Site team training; Good clinical practice; Clinical trials

Key Points

  • There is little evidence that good clinical practice (GCP) training alone sufficiently qualifies investigators in the conduct of clinical trials. What is needed is a targeted and risk-based approach to educating clinical trial investigators and their delegates in GCP principles.
  • A culture shift is needed that eliminates the distinction between “qualification” and “preparation” and moves toward investigators and their delegates assuming greater ownership of training and documenting evidence of their qualification.
  • CTTI recommendations outline how to confirm that site teams are qualified while also reducing inefficiencies in training and increasing preparation for successful study execution.

Discussion Themes

Investigators and site teams come to the table with different levels of research experience, training, and credentials. How can we effectively address gaps in skills and knowledge of GCP principles?

With respect to pragmatic trials conducted within healthcare systems, are there approaches to site monitoring that address issues related to turnover of PIs and clinical and research staff?

Greater ownership of GCP training and qualification by investigators and delegates can lead to active remediation of deficiencies at the clinical site.

CTTI recommendations are meant to be adaptable to the protocol, even when conducted in a real-world clinical setting using electronic health records.

For recommendations and tools for improving investigator qualification, visit CTTI’s Investigator Qualification website.

Tags

#ClinicalTrials, #GCPtraining, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1 @CTTI_Trials

January 22, 2019: New Self-Paced ePCT Training Course Available

The NIH Collaboratory is pleased to announce the availability of a new self-paced, 10-module introductory course on how to design, conduct, and disseminate embedded PCTs (ePCTs). This course presents condensed material from the inaugural ePCT Training Workshop held in 2018 and provides users with important things to know and do when designing an ePCT, along with helpful links to additional learning resources within the Living Textbook.

Also available in the Living Textbook are links to videocast workshops hosted by the NIH on a range of ePCT topics including:

  • Embedded PCTs of therapeutic A versus B interventions
  • Unique opportunities for disseminating, implementing, and sustaining evidence-based practices into clinical care
  • Ethical and regulatory issues of PCTs

For these and other ePCT resources, visit the Training Resources webpage.

January 4, 2019: TRANSFORMing Research for Patients With Heart Failure (Robert Mentz, MD, Kevin Anstrom, PhD, Eric Eisenstein, DBA, Stephen Greene, MD, Eric Velazquez, MD)

Speakers

Robert J. Mentz, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine

Kevin J. Anstrom, PhD
Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
Director of Biostatistics, Duke Clinical Research Institute
Duke University School of Medicine

Eric Eisenstein, DBA
Associate Professor in Medicine
Duke University School of Medicine

Stephen J. Greene, MD
Fellow, Division of Cardiology and Duke Clinical Research Institute
Duke University School of Medicine

Eric J. Velazquez. MD, FACP, FACC, FASE, FAHA
Robert W. Berliner Professor of Medicine, Yale University
Chief, Cardiovascular Medicine, Yale New Haven Hospital
Physician-in-Chief, Heart and Vascular Center, Yale New Haven Health

Topic

TRANSFORMing Research for Patients With Heart Failure

Keywords

Pragmatic clinical trial; Heart failure; PRECIS-2; Hospitalization; TRANSFORM-HF; Clinical equipoise; Electronic health records; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

Key Points

  • The traditional approach to conducting clinical trials is unsustainable in many respects, including operational complexities, low enrollment rates, high costs, and failure to leverage existing resources. Incorporating pragmatic elements in the design of trials may improve efficiencies and conduct.
  • TRANSFORM-HF is a pragmatic trial evaluating torsemide versus furosemide treatment for long-term clinical outcomes among patients hospitalized for heart failure. Study randomization is 1:1, and the primary endpoint is all-cause mortality.
  • Advantages of trials with pragmatic designs include real-world effectiveness; broad patient/provider groups; reduced number and complexity of visits; streamlined data collection; potential for faster results; and results that will be more generalizable.

Discussion Themes

The clinical question involving starting a treatment (Should we start with furosemide or torsemide?) versus switching a treatment (Should we attempt to switch patients from furosemide to torsemide?) would seem to lead to different study designs.

While the peer review process for funding TRANSFORM-HF was challenging and required modifying the approach, it ultimately led to a better design.

Read more about PRECIS-2 domains along the explanatory-pragmatic continuum of a clinical trial in the Living Textbook.

Tags

#HeartFailure, #pctGR, @Collaboratory1, @robmentz, @SJGreene_md, @YaleCardiology, @ericjvelazquez