NAPLES, Fla. — We talk about new advancements in healthcare and medicine all the time, but how do these advancements happen? Sometimes it's through a study or new technology. Other times, it's through a clinical trial. Fox 4 talked to doctors at the NCH Heart Institute about why clinical trials are so important.
“Clinical trials are important for the further advancement of medicine," Dr. Dinesh Sharma, an Electrophysiologist with the NCH Heart Institute, said. "We want our patients to get the best cutting-edge available treatment."
The President of the NCH Heart Institute, Dr. Robert Cubeddu, said that's been his mission since he came to NCH in March of last year.
"It's part of what we're passionate about; education and staying at the forefront of medicine and cardiac disease states," he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said clinical trials are a type of research that studies new tests, treatments, procedures, devices or preventative care, and evaluates their impacts on people's health. People then volunteer to be part of a clinical trial.
WHO says there are four phases to a clinical trial:
- Phase I Studies typically test something new for the first time on a small group of volunteers to evaluate safety and identify side effects.
- Phase II Studies test what was found safe in Phase I on a larger group of people.
- Phase III Studies are done on bigger populations in different regions. This is usually the step right before a new treatment is approved.
- Phase IV Studies happen after approval, when there's a need for more testing over a longer period of time.
There are 16 clinical trials happening within the NCH Heart Institute.
“And these are all device therapies and pharmacological therapies that are new, that are clearly the pipeline in the future of medicine and cardiac care," Dr. Cubeddu said.
Clinical trials also help doctors get hands-on experience with new, cutting-edge therapies or technology.
Dr. Dean Kereiakes, the President of Christ Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute, said these clinical trials at NCH benefit the people of Southwest Florida.
“It allows us to provide drugs and new medical devices, new treatments years ahead of when they would be otherwise commercially available," he said.