What is clinical research?
At some point in our lives we have all benefited from clinical research. When you take medication, when you have a procedure in hospital or an operation and even when you consult with a clinician.
Everything we do in medicine has been underpinned by some form of scientific research. The health and well-being of people all over the world is changed for the better by clinical research.
Research can take a whole host of different forms from surveys to complex clinical drug trials. In the current pandemic we are seeing clinical research excel with efforts to create a vaccine, public health initiatives and work to treat patients who suffer with COVID-19.
How is research governed and reviewed?
There are international standards for research and the most well known is the Declaration of Helsinki. This outlines the ethical principles for research and was developed by the World Medical Association back in 1964 and has been regularly updated since. It is supported and adhered to by every major medical and research institute across the globe.
Why should I, as a patient, take part in research?
Babylon believes in improving the health of our patients and of the wider public. Being part of clinical research allows us to contribute to medical advances that can provide new ways to prevent, detect or treat disease.
Being part of research allows us to help improve the health of the individual and also the health and wellbeing of the wider global population, both today and for future generations.
We want to ensure that all of our patients are provided with the opportunity to be involved in clinical research and we collaborate with both local and international research partners to identify patients who may be suitable to participate in particular research trials.
As an organisation we are always striving to improve the health of our users across the globe. To help this we may also do research ourselves.
This could be looking at the technology we use or the way we deliver care, and our aim is to publish it in peer-reviewed journals for the wider medical and scientific communities. Developing research like this is part of our ambition to be a comprehensive health care company focusing on the best care.
The National Institute for Health Research in the UK has developed a great website explaining why as a patient you may wish to take part in research. More information can be found here:
Do I have to take part in research and if I do not will it affect my care?
No, you do not need to take part and, if you decide not to, it will not affect the quality of your care or your relationship with your General Practitioner, Family Physician, your practice or any other health care professionals who you see.
If you are eligible and do decide to join a clinical trial, you may withdraw at any time. Research teams will also notify a patient's General practice or Family Physician of the results of any investigations they undertake such as blood tests or scans and will keep them fully informed for the duration of any trial.
What about my personal data when it comes to research?
Research guidelines and ethics are very clear and all bodies are required to follow the data protection laws of the country of the institution. Personal data is handled very sensitively and confidentially by researchers and research institutions.
They never sell or share your data to third parties and if you do opt in for research you are able to withdraw from it at any point. The rights of the patients involved in research take precedence at all times.
All patients have certain rights under Data Protection Law, please contact [email protected] if you have any questions.
Can you give me some examples of where research has made a difference to public health?
There are so many examples here and given the current climate we are seeing medical research advance at an unprecedented rate to find long term solutions to COVID-19. Babylon GP at hand recently collaborated with Imperial College London in clinical research studying coronavirus and the body's immune response to it.
Another really good example in modern times is the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine developed to protect people from contracting certain types of HPV which can lead to cervical cancer. After years of research the vaccine was released in the UK in 2008 to girls and since 2019 it is now routinely offered to all children aged 12-13. Even after release, research continues to see if the vaccine can develop and seek to eliminate the risk of cervical cancer, once and for all.
As Marie Curie, the founder of pioneering research on radioactivity which is now integral to cancer care, said “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”