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Going the Extra 43,000 Miles For Clinical Trials: Q&A with Mike Addario

February 28, 2023 | By 20/20 Onsite
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It’s 20/20 Onsite’s mission to go the extra mile for our patients to make high-quality vision care accessible for all. Our Life Sciences team travels across all 48 contiguous states bringing our three one-of-a-kind delivery models directly to patients or trial sites to reduce travel barriers and improve the patient experience every step of the way. In 2022, the team supported 12 clinical trials across the country – traveling over 100,000 miles in total. Clinic Manager Mike Addario contributed 43,118 of those miles traveled. 

Keep reading our employee spotlight with Mike to learn more about his travels and what makes every mile worth it. 

What are your primary roles and responsibilities as

clinic manager at 20/20 Onsite? 

When I became clinic manager, I started working on the Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation (AGTC) contract – which I still work on today. Back in 2020, when we first entered the clinical trial space, Adam Merola, Senior Manager of Clinical Program Operations, and I got to pilot this clinical study. During that time, I also drove our Mobile Vision Clinic to assess patients for primary vision care. 

To become clinic manager, I first received my store manager certification. Then, I completed the Ophthalmic Clinical Trials Training and Certification (OCTTC) program at Emmes, enabling me to perform trial frame refractions and specific testing for AGTC patients. 

When doing these assessments, I work with the Maia – a machine that captures the patients’ macular response, sensitivities, and their ability to stay focused. The second assessment I run using the OCT, a machine onboard the MVC that uses light waves to track the patient’s retina. I support the AGTC study by performing remote dilations and tracking for any adverse patient reactions. Interestingly enough, we can actually identify how thick the layers are in the back of the eye, with the OCT as well. In this case, that measurement is important to know for a gene therapy that gets injected into the back of the eye. 

More recently, I’ve been working on an ongoing Phase 1 trial in California for Altasciences, testing a dry eye medicine. In this trial, I frequently do eye charting (BCVA assessment) with patients, the doctor is on-site performing slit lamp examination, and I scribe for the doctor so they can focus on patient care. 

Tell us about your background. What led you to a career in eye care and clinical research?

My career path has been pretty broad. I’ve always been a quick learner in regard to stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I’m eager to dive in headfirst, no matter the opportunity because I try not to let fear of the unknown hold me back. 

I started my career working in the food industry with the Subway chain. I worked there for almost six years before changing my career path. I took my second job working for Circuit City, specifically in their car stereo and installation department. I started off in sales and worked my way up to the manager position for the installations and sales team. I worked there for 12 years, making many great connections along the way. I actually met Ivan Quiroz, VP of Program Operations, and Adam while working at Circuit City. Strong connections like these are what lead to my position at 20/20 Onsite. 

When Circuit City went out of business, I briefly worked at a computer store called Microcenter, running their service department. I also worked at a few local car audio installation shops. While Ivan was working at LensCrafters, he called me about an opening for store manager. Again, I would be jumping into a whole new field that was unfamiliar to me. In this case, it was optometry. I dove right in, excelled, and also made many great connections there. 

After seven years of working at LensCrafters, I received another call from Ivan. Ivan had already joined the 20/20 team. He was looking to freshen up the team and fill an open store manager position. In 2017, when the timing was right, I accepted the position at 20/20 Onsite. 

How has 20/20 Onsite changed since you first started working for the company? 

I have worked for 20/20 Onsite for 5 years now so, of course, a ton of things have changed. I’ve seen this company grow to medium size, shrink back down, and build itself back up all over again. 20/20 Onsite has taken great strides in both the primary vision care and clinical space. In the past two years alone, we’ve doubled the size of our team– an amazing accomplishment. 

It’s an awesome feeling to accomplish so much, then continue to discuss even more growth within the company. At 20/20 Onsite, the sky truly feels like the limit. We’re constantly looking for ways to innovate and expand on both sides of the business. It’s been a remarkable experience being able to support patients, build up this company, and watch our team grow. I’m super excited about what the future holds. I feel like we’re right on the cusp of something special. This year, I feel, we’re going to push it to the next level and surpass the startup phase.

Where did you travel to most recently and for what type of project?

I have been working on the AGTC contract, which typically slows down from late December into January. For the month of January, I supported AGTC as needed while assisting in a new clinical study in California for Altasciences. It’s definitely a cool place to visit, plus flying to and from L.A.X. has kept me busy. 

After traveling across the country, what regions or states do you see having the greatest need for accessible clinical care? 

I’ve noticed there are pockets around the country that have a greater need for clinical care. New Mexico sticks out in my mind, especially among the large Native American population. When we administer care to clinical studies in that area, it's apparent that general healthcare can be tough to come by. Therefore, I think it's important to increase the quality of care in New Mexico. 

In 2022, you traveled to 285 new cities, 433 in total. So which ones are your favorite? 

Mike Addario’s 2022 Travel Recap (via GoogleMaps)

During my travels, to my surprise, the city of La Crosse, Wisconsin caught my attention. This beautiful town sits right at the top of the Mississippi River. It's much calmer than city life. While I was there, I saw numerous bald eagles flying around. 

On top of the magnificent bald eagles, everyone was so welcoming and compassionate. As I walked around, people were so eager to say hello. And they wouldn’t just give you that quick hello in casual passing. They actually wanted to engage in morning conversation and get to know the folks walking by.  

I was fortunate to visit so many cities this past year. In addition to La Crosse, WI, here are some of my favorite stops along the road:

Screenshot 2023-02-28 at 11.37.16 AM

Mike Addario’s Travel Recommendations

You’re packed to go traveling for a work trip. What 3 things can you not leave the house without?

One time I did leave the house without my personal bag of toiletries which was horrible. Now I always remember to pack my bag with toothpaste, a toothbrush, and anything else I might need. The second item I pack would be my Bose headphones that I purchased in December. The noise canceling feature has changed my traveling experience. I started wearing them on flights and it brought the experience to a whole new level. I didn’t realize how harsh the constant drowning of the engine can be. Eliminating that from the equation has been great. 

Finally, I can’t leave home without my telescopic fishing rod and a small little tackle box with some gear. I love fishing and I have the awesome opportunity of being able to fish in different areas.

Since you spend a lot of time traveling, what makes it all worth it? 

Mike Addario’s 2022 Travel Recap (via GoogleMaps)

I have been traveling the country for almost three years now, visiting all 48 contiguous states within the first two. I’ll have to use some PTO to get to Alaska and Hawaii, but they are on my radar. 

I’ll admit that traveling is fun. I love the new experiences and the sense of adventure that comes with it. I’m proud to say I’ve made it from coast to coast. I’ve been up to Seattle, Washington, and traveled back all the way down to Key West, FL. 

At the end of the day, visiting new places may be exciting but there is nothing better than caring for a patient. I think the most attractive thing about this job is the unrivaled patient experience with our Mobile Vision Clinics. Whether it be in a clinical study or primary care, our standard of care really is next level. I’ve had many patients express overwhelmingly positive feedback to supervisors and myself. They are truly blown away by our highly trained staff and the excellent care they provide. We tend to be one of their best health care experiences ever. 

The convenience is a game-changer. I once had a parent tell me, hands down, it was the best experience of his life. His son has been undergoing clinical trials for anywhere from 8 to 10 years, and he said I was the best technician that he’s ever encountered. I was truly honored and touched to see how great the experience was for him and his son. I’ll always remember that. 

If you had to tell a biopharma leader one thing that makes 20/20 Onsite worth having as part of a trial, what would it be? 

I would bring it down to our world-class experience and service. Our patient-first approach will have positive feedback flowing in. Not only are we reducing, and, in some cases, eliminating patient travel entirely by bringing care directly to the patient. We are providing unmatched patient care. From the inside of the truck to the outside of the truck to the personnel onboard, we deliver the best patient experience and service – hands down.

Partner with 20/20 Onsite to bring unrivaled care directly to your patients or sites.

If you're looking to reduce the patient travel burden for an upcoming clinical trial, 20/20 Onsite’s three unique delivery models are a great solution. Get in touch with us today so we can get the conversation started.


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