Oct 25, 2022
Evolving Clinical Research: CKD & Rare Disease Network Creates Opportunities for Greater Diversity, Participation

Clinical trials offer the opportunity to test new therapeutic treatments and advance care, but trials often hit logistical barriers. Because trials have typically occurred in a physical research site, identifying eligible participants close enough to travel to the site limits participation overall and impacts diversity. This often means that the people in the clinical trial population do not look like the overall population with the condition.

These limitations also have significant consequences on timelines and budgets ultimately delaying the time to market for new therapies.

COVID-19 caused disruption in many clinical trials, but also accelerated the use of more virtual options.[1] This created the opportunity to include patients who would otherwise not be able or willing to enroll in traditional trial settings.

DaVita Clinical Research’s (DCR) Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) & Rare Disease Network seeks to include more sites of care and provide diverse opportunities for those looking to engage in clinical studies. With an ever-expanding provider network using the same technology platform, there is an opportunity to both use data to find potential patients for studies and enable physicians new to research to successfully participate in the drug development process. A combination of technology, central support teams and mentoring support enables a whole new set of providers and patients access to clinical trial participation.

“By decentralizing our research, we’re able to help improve enrollment timelines and reduce costs by only starting up sites that already have patients—a fairly common barrier in traditional research,” Amy Young, vice president and general manager for DCR, explains. “And we also have the opportunity to enhance greater diversity in our research population. This is important especially in kidney care where we see higher rates of CKD in Black and Hispanic communities and see the direct impact of factors like social determinants of health playing into outcomes.”

Ultimately, the CKD & Rare Disease Network is positioned to help drive more patient-centric research. This decentralized approach allows researchers to cast a wider net, reaching people living in rural areas and other communities where access to clinical trials has historically been limited or unavailable.

DCR can help lead the way in how clinical research evolves. “As the research arm of DaVita, we connect our physician partners and patients to participate in cutting-edge research,” Young says. “DCR can leverage a large patient base, enabling technology platforms and lean on our deep research expertise. This creates an ecosystem where we create value to the whole community by accelerating development of new therapies.”

For engaged participants in the CKD & Rare Disease Network, they’ll be alerted to research opportunities using a data-driven approach. Participants can then opt in to contribute to the research, offering their patients access to innovative new therapeutics.

Young says,

“With greater representation in the scientific groundwork, we believe decentralizing research can ideally lead to improved care for everyone—regardless of geography, economic status, gender or race.”


[1] Van Norman G, et al. Decentralized Clinical Trials. J Am Coll Cardiol Basic Trans Science. 2021 Apr, 6 (4) 384–387. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacbts.2021.01.011