Siri helps health services to debunk clinical trial myths

20 May 2024

If it weren’t for clinical trials, Mildura local Lisa Cumming would struggle to get the latest treatment for her blood cancer.

For the last eight months, she’s had no choice but to travel to Melbourne for a necessary clinical trial every Monday. Her hospital visits were only recently reduced to monthly.

“It’s a big toll mentally and there’s out-of-pocket expenses, plus my daughter and husband take turns at coming with me for support. That means time off work for them as well,” she said.

In 2020, Alfred Health launched its pilot program TrialHub, funded by the Australian Government, to help people like Lisa get access to local clinical trials.

Mildura Base Public Hospital is one of six Victorian regional, rural and outer metro hospitals currently participating in the program, which is supporting each health service with what they need to be able to open their own clinical trial unit.

The goal of TrialHub is to reduce the mental and financial burden on patients of having to travel to a metro centre for a clinical trial.

MBPH opened its first clinical trial unit in 2023 and it has since opened a study.

TrialHub is providing intensive operational, as well as financial support, as the unit establishes itself so that more clinical trials are able to open, providing access to cutting-edge treatment without having to go to Melbourne.  

While it takes some time to build an independent clinical trial unit, the goal this year is to successfully recruit participants to clinical trials. This will allow us to offer some of the appointments and tests to the patients locally and reduce the travel burden. Long-term, it is hoped patients will no longer have to travel long distances to go on a clinical trial.

As part of International Clinical Trials Day, Lisa and our Research Governance Officer, Tracey Wilson, joined six other Victorian health services in a special video about clinical trials to help Victorians understand them better.

Low awareness of clinicals trials is one of the biggest reasons people don’t participate in clinical trials.

This year, seven health services working with TrialHub – Alfred Health, Bass Coast Health, Latrobe Regional Health, Mildura Base Public Hospital, Northern Health, Bendigo Health, and Peninsula Health - have come together to create a unique video to debunk clinical trials and to celebrate the progress that’s been made outside of metro Melbourne to increase access to clinical trials closer to home.