Metro Health joins research consortium

May 24, 2010
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Metro Health is joining ClinXus, the consortium formed by West Michigan health care and life sciences organizations to attract clinical trials to the area.

Dr. Bill Cunningham, executive vice president and chief medical officer at the Wyoming hospital, said the move is a chance for Metro Health to ramp up its research involvement.

“It, number one, puts us in a community of organizations that are committed to research and are committed to bringing innovative technologies to West Michigan,” Cunningham said.

Metro Health has formed a Department of Clinical Research to work on clinical trials, he said. Long a member of the Grand Rapids Oncology Consortium, Metro Health has been mostly on the sidelines in medical research, he said, but now he expects that to change.

“With the exception of cardiology, neurology and some general surgery, the majority of the research we did was retrospective or chart reviews or case reports,” Cunningham said. “By having a Department of Clinical Research, we are able to be more innovative and get into more of these clinical trials where you are actually doing patient research.”

He said patients will find access to cutting-edge treatments through clinical trials.

The recent completion of Metro Health’s electronic record system attracted ClinXus, Cunningham added. The system provides records that follow patients from their Metro Health doctor’s offices to the hospital and back again. That makes the creation of patient registries — lists of patients with certain conditions — easy to generate for clinical trials, he said.

“Let’s say they have a study to see if they have new way of giving insulin or dosing a diabetes drug, and they want to follow through to the primary care office. We can, with very little trouble, go into the software system and can tell, with a keystroke, how many we have with diabetes,” he said.

Also joining ClinXus recently was MPI Research of Mattawan, which handles pre-clinical and animal trials.

Dr. Bill Baer, an internist and pharmacist, is executive director and chief medical officer at ClinXus. Baer said that the new members fill in two gaps that now allow him to present the West Michigan area as offering a full continuum of research capabilities to those aiming to place clinical trials. Formed in 2006 with six members, ClinXus now has 10 members.

“What this offers is really being able to do anything from the pre-clinical side all the way through Phase 4. We can do any sort of trial, from developmental stages all the way through the mass production phase,” Baer said.

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