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August 16 2019

Clinical trials provide access to new and emerging medical treatments

By Timothy Wassenaar, MD

Medical knowledge is advancing faster than ever before, and clinical trials accelerate that progress. We are finding more successful treatments for chronic diseases and illnesses, moving us toward curing diseases that have been great challenges.

For people with chronic conditions, hopes are high. Many advancements now focus on using the immune system to target disease at the cellular level.

Cancer care has benefitted greatly from clinical research. We now treat some forms of cancer with pills instead of the intravenous treatments of the past that caused serious side effects.

Clinical trials give eligible patients in Waukesha County an opportunity to access cutting-edge treatments. A treatment that may not yet be widely available could improve a patient’s quality of life and longevity.

For patients who participate, clinical trials offer hope for better outcomes. For researchers, the clinical trials help identify medical advancements.

Studies are patient-centered

One of the most rewarding aspects of medical research is providing new treatment options for patients. It’s an honor to provide care and discuss detailed aspects of a medical condition and treatment with these patients. When a patient has a successful outcome as a result of a clinical trial, it is immensely satisfying.

Medical research has specific criteria for patient eligibility. People interested in learning whether they might be eligible for a study should contact their physician. A trial needs to be a good fit, based on a patient’s medical condition and overall health.

The first step is to match a patient with a research team. Each research team focuses on the needs of the individual patients who are participating. A typical team includes a physician, a primary researcher, nurses and a research specialist.

The research specialist serves as a navigator for the patient throughout a trial, from consideration of enrollment to the completion of treatment. The research specialist is also a resource for the patient – someone who can provide information and answer questions.

A number of health care professionals come together to serve as consultants for the research team and help develop the patient’s treatment plan. Depending on the type of study, specialists from pathology, radiology and genetics might be involved.

Benefits are widespread

Studies are often open to patients across the country. A large number of patients from a wide variety of areas bring better results and help lower costs.

Medical research is funded through grants from governments, foundations, businesses and individuals. The Waukesha County community is vested in enabling us to conduct research that helps people both locally and in other places.   

Clinical trials help test exciting new treatments in order to compare them against current standard practices and identify the best outcomes for patients. They allow eligible patients access to new treatments. And, most important, clinical trials give hope to patients with serious health challenges.

Timothy Wassenaar, MD, is a hematologist at ProHealth Care. He sees patients at the UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care and ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital. ProHealth Care’s research program is known for patient-centered care and efficient access to clinical trials across a number of specialties, including cancer and heart care in partnership with UW Health, internal medicine, neurology, nursing care, orthopedics and women’s health. More information is available at ProHealthCare.org/Research. 

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For more than a century, ProHealth Care has been the health care leader in Waukesha County and surrounding areas, providing outstanding care across a full spectrum of services. The people of ProHealth Care strive to continuously improve the health and well-being of the community by combining skill, compassion and innovation. The ProHealth family includes ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, ProHealth Medical Group, the UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, Moreland Surgery Center, ProHealth AngelsGrace Hospice, ProHealth Home Care, ProHealth West Wood Health & Fitness Center and ProHealth Regency Senior Communities. Learn more at ProHealthCare.org.