Clinical trials have a vital role in the advancement of medicine. Physicians rely on sound clinical evidence which meets strict scientific standards, along with their personal experience and knowledge of the patient, to guide treatment decisions. Medical societies and insurance companies also use the results of studies to create treatment and coverage guidelines.
Although quality evidence supporting the value of proton therapy exists and continues to grow, a sparsity of randomized, controlled, prospective studies has been cited as a reason for insurance companies to deny coverage for its use. The obvious Catch-22 is that a lack of broad coverage for proton therapy is a significant barrier to accruing the number of patients needed to complete these trials. Proton therapy centers are trying to find novel ways to overcome these barriers and Provision is among those leading the way.
Due to our ongoing support of clinical trials with proton therapy – Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville was positively mentioned in a 2018 Journal of Clinical Oncology article for finding novel ways to enroll eligible patients in clinical trials despite the lack of insurance coverage. The author commends Provision, along with Northwestern Medicine and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, for having payment programs for patients and taking on the financial risk if proton therapy is not covered on appeal. These efforts help the randomized trials accrue enough patients to answer comparative effectiveness questions which will solidify proton therapy as a treatment of choice.
Physician champions are also essential to making clinical trials a priority. Dr. Ben Wilkinson also received recognition for his contribution to the RADCOMP Trial (Radiotherapy Comparative Effectiveness Trial). His efforts were formally acknowledged in a letter from the trial’s lead investigators. He is in the Top 25% of accruing physicians involved with RadComp. This reflects a substantial investment of time and energy by him and the clinical team.
Here is a link to the study: Randomized Trials of Proton Therapy: Why They Are at Risk, Proposed Solutions, and Implications for Evaluating Advanced Technologies to Diagnose and Treat Cancer. If you see Dr. Wilkinson, you may want to congratulate him and thank him for his continuing support of clinical trials.