Friday, October 12, 2012

An Interview with Aaron Fleishman from BBK Worldwide

When I attended the Disruptive Innovations to Advance Clinical Trials conference in Boston, MA last month I had the pleasure of sitting beside Aaron Fleishman from BBK Worldwide for a portion of the event.

He interviewed me for their blog and the post can be seen here:
Patient Recruitment From The Patient's Perspective

I asked him if I could interview him for my blog as well, and Aaron was kind enough to respond.

Here is our interview:

Jeri: What was your goal in attending the dpharm 2nd annual Disruptive Innovations to Advance clinical Trials conference in Boston?

A.F.: This was my first time attending this conference, so I was excited to learn about the new ideas people had for improving recruitment and relationships with patients. I was also interested to learn about new programs and technology people are using to improve the industry.

Jeri: Who was your favorite presenter (besides me, of course) and why?

A.F.: I really enjoyed the presentation from Robin Price from WhatIf Innovations. Not only was he engaging with the audience, but the way he spoke about generating ideas with the people you work with -- and as he put it, “Finding the essence of the challenge”-- was insightful and actually motivated me to work differently with my team.

Jeri: Who do you think was most "disruptive" or "innovative"?

A.F.: I don’t know if I could pinpoint one person who was the most “innovative” or “disruptive,” but one of the aspects that I liked was the artist who used pictures to represent what was being said by the presenters. I thought this was a very clever way of taking in what was being said.

(Aaron was referring to Jonny Goldstein and his live-drawn "envisualizations" of the event. – Jeri)

Jeri: What are your thoughts about the hope for the future of innovations in clinical trials?

A.F.: I hope that the industry as a whole continues to embrace change and push the envelope for creative ideas so that more people become involved in clinical research. When I’m asked questions on this subject, I always refer to a blog article written by BBK Worldwide’s head of marketing intelligence Matt Kibby:, In this blog article, Matt discusses how it takes time for the industry to embrace change. He’s confident that the industry will continue to embrace change, though it will take time. I find comfort in that, in knowing that all we have to do as patient advocates and recruiters for clinical studies is be patiently persistent and eventually our message will come across to the clinical trial sponsors we work with. I think conferences like Disruptive Innovations are great because they force the industry to think creatively.

Jeri: How can you or your company play a part in effecting changes in big pharma's traditional approach to conducting clinical trials that would be "disruptive"?

A.F.: I think one of the best parts about working at BBK is that we are not afraid to be innovative, and the sponsors we work with can see that in the passion we have for the industry and the products we build. As long as we can stay on the path of prioritizing the patient first, there is no telling how much we can effect change in the healthcare industry.

Jeri: What do you think needs to happen first in order for changes in the way clinical trials are conducted to start taking place?

A.F.: I think it starts with education. I can’t tell you how many times I've spoken with people who are interested in clinical research, but they say they don’t want to be considered a “lab rat.” Though I understand why some people may feel that way, it’s just not true. Sure there are millions of dollars made off of these clinical studies and that can be a bit daunting, however it doesn't change the fact that we want the best for all patients. I think if you polled the industry, everyone would rather find a cure for a particular disease versus the monetary success that can come from the pharma industry. I think it’s important for people to know that in order to improve the standard of care, and in order to improve the treatments available for conditions, it starts with clinical research. Being a part of a study means you are contributing to the overall understanding of a condition, and that can be a cool thing to be a part of. Along with that, I think the industry as a whole needs to do a better job of explaining what’s involved in being part of a clinical trial.

Jeri: If you had the chance to have one single idea considered by Big Pharma, what would it be?

A.F.: I don’t know if there is a single idea per say, but I want the pharma industry to continue to build strong relationships with patients. I think the work you are doing is tremendous, and I hope there are more opportunities for people like you to have the same impact.

Jeri: How long have you worked for BBK Worldwide and how would you describe your job?

A.F.: I’ve worked at BBK Worldwide for almost a year now. My team heads up social innovation and patient advocacy.

Jeri: Will we see BBK Worldwide again next year at the 3rd annual Disruptive Innovations to Advance clinical Trials 2013?

A.F.:  Absolutely! I found this conference to be incredibly insightful, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Jeri: One last question I'm dying to know the answer to: How do you think I, as a clinical trial patient, can most effectively advocate and become involved to help inspire change in clinical research? I'm all about the pointers.

Share. Share. Share. I think you have valuable insight into the pharma industry and clinical research. BBK and other industry companies can talk all we want about clinical research, but we can never get to the personal level with people the way you can. I don’t have MS; I can’t relate to people on a deep, personal level like you can. I can read all there is to know about MS and even become an “expert” in understanding MS, but I can’t relate to the experience of living with it and all the emotional challenges that come with its management. The more people that are out there sharing their stories about being in a clinical trial, the better. I think others will find comfort in knowing that people like you are out there, working with the pharma industry. I think you and others like you are in the unique position to bring pharma and patients together to start building strong positive relationships, so that we can all work together to further our understanding of all conditions.

That concludes the interview. Thanks, Aaron, for taking the time to answer my questions! If I play my cards right perhaps we'll cross paths next year at the 3rd Annual Disruptive Innovations to Advance Clinical Trials.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Diane! Say, how've you been? I haven't been blog hopping lately or I'd probably know the answer. lol Good to hear from you! J


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