Monday, November 24, 2008

Zagats for Clinical Trial Sponsors and CROs

Living in Manhattan years ago, Zagats defined how we found restaurants. This was Web 2.0 before the Internet -- relying on feedback from other diners to find the "best" restaurant.

Today the spirit of user ranking and feedback defines Web 2.0 -- TripAdvisor tells us which hotel is best, Epinions which product is best, etc.

We are also seeing the Zagat spirit in healthcare. Enter your doctor's name in Google and the first matches are likely all physician and hospital rating sites -- HealthGrades, Vitals, RateMDs. Even Zagats has entered the fray of rating doctors.

So how far could we be from sites where investigators and patients can post reviews and rankings for clinical trial sponsors?

Some groups such as CenterWatch have a history of surveying sites to identify top rated CROs and sponsors. But moving from a controlled survey to the "wild west" of Internet reviews and postings will be a different world. Same too for inviting feedback from patients.

If this seems unrealistic, that is probably what the venture capital community used to believe. No entrepreneur would ever dare to post ratings and reviews of interactions with VCs while seeking funding? And then came, disrupting and nudging a long-standing power balance.

Today many are addressing the shortfall in number of investigators by looking for sites around the world, and addressing the challenges in patient recruitment by increasing trial-related advertising spend.
Perhaps such a review website would be good for drug development -- a site where investigators and patients were posting their feedback and ratings may force the industry to identify and address the roots behind the problems.

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