As we continue supporting clinical research, one of the things we enjoy most is having conversations with other industry experts about ways to improve the patient experience and overall health outcomes for the community. That’s why we’re honored to share our conversation with one of 2020 On-site’s Industry and Scientific Advisory Board Members, Dr. Adam Ramsey, OD.
Dr. Ramsey is the owner of Socialite Vision in Palms Beach Garden and has been a Florida Board Certified Optometrist for almost a decade. Within this time, Dr. Ramsey has been awarded the Florida Optometric Association 2020 Local Society Member of the year, the 2018 Small Business of the Year Award from the Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beaches, and 2018 Business of the Year Award from Legacy Magazine.
His work as an advocate for diversity and inclusion through his role as an advisory board member for Bausch and Lomb, Zeiss, Alcon, Novartis, and SeaCoast Bank along with numerous others is nothing short of inspirational. Not only does he have a passion for being a voice for minorities in the community, but he also enjoys sharing his expertise in other health topics ranging from vision conditions and treatment to technology in care.
With his experience in optometry, healthcare, and business, we are excited to share this exclusive interview below.
Why did you start Socialite Vision?
Dr. Ramsey: I have always been independent and enjoy working for myself. After working with several clinics and different practices, I felt that I couldn’t give patients the experience I would want. There was less control over being able to help patients. Therefore, I started Socialite Vision to cater and curate patients’ eye care as well as support different brands that have aligned values or purposes.
Why did you decide to join the 2020 On-site advisory board?
Dr. Ramsey: When I was approached and asked to join, I was told that the board wanted to diversify its patient base and allow more diversity in clinical trials. I have seen studies for medical treatments that didn’t have a diverse group used in clinical trials and couldn’t see how I could recommend treatments to patients that I was unsure was actually going to help. I realized no one was really standing up and being a voice for the overlooked demographics. Instead of being the person on the sidelines yelling “Why don’t clinical trials have better representation?,” I decided to stand up and figure out a way to run the research with providers that allow diversity.
What are you excited to talk about in the next board meeting?
Dr. Ramsey: After being on boards in which I would suggest things multiple times and would never see them actualized, I’m more concerned about the follow-up to the suggestions we made in the last meeting. I want to see the information gathered from these ideas and keep moving it forward. I want to emphasize that I am not here to pose for the picture or be on the website, but to work towards making a difference. I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and see patients in person to get better information.
What is something specific that Sponsors and CROs can do to start the conversation about diversity, push it forward, or create an action item from the conversation?
Dr. Ramsey: We need to hire people that look like the community we’re trying to attract to get patients in the study. Researchers need to ask questions such as “How many physicians of color are in the city?” People feel an immediate connection to those who are similar to them.
Also, they need to look into how the study material is being communicated. Is it in different languages? Inclusive of people with low vision? Braille? It is important to make sure the language or any means of communication is native to the people reading it and that we are thinking about the patients we are trying to serve.
Lastly, they need to make sure when marketing the study, the studies conducted are ones that minority communities actually want. We don’t want to be included in a study that very few minorities are impacted by when there are other conditions that the minority communities are affected by that never get any funding or research.
What is the inherent flaw in these non-diverse studies and is there a solution to the flaw?
Dr. Ramsey: You need to go directly to the money. The person funding this must make it a priority or requirement to be more diverse. If the person writing the checks required it, it would happen. Or, the government mandates it (but I can’t control the government).
Including diversity from minority communities requires a lot of grunt work that the sites are not going to do unless it is mandated or they are being paid to do it.
Has anybody tried to create an auditing system that offers the “gold star approval” that can be used to prove the work for diversity?
Dr. Ramsey: You are asking for somebody to create a solution for something that nobody considers a problem. No, there is no list of diverse providers or researchers. It would collect cobwebs because the researchers will go back to the same communities over and over again. Otherwise, the sites would already be diverse. This would cause the same problem of using the same people and expecting different results.
People don’t realize the entire sample group for clinical trials doesn't have to be racial minorities. Black people make up only 13% of the population. We are only asking for the 13% representation in trials — going from the current 3% to 13%.
You need to get people to care about that “gold star” standard for diversity. But I don’t want people to use this as a way to simply get the gold star but don’t actually care about becoming more inclusive or better serving the community. I want people to actually care about the problem.
What’s a baby step that someone reading this can do to start making that difference?
Dr. Ramsey: Everybody has more influence and impact than they really give themselves credit for. Speak up. Sometimes we stay quiet in rooms when we could have spoken. Somebody who is a non-minority also has to speak and be the voice for the voiceless. You miss details or never consider certain perspectives because no one from that particular background or intended market was in the room.
How might we be able to leverage our tools here at 2020 On-site, specifically our mobile vision clinics? How might that be able to improve the problem of diversity in trials?
Dr. Ramsey: That was the one thing I loved about 2020 on-site, more specifically your mobile clinics. Sometimes, the hardest part is getting to the appointment. I think if we could go into those communities, do the groundwork, and do some philanthropic work in those communities, then they can see that we genuinely do care. And then we’re going to come back.
When we have something that we think will benefit the community and be better off for it, people will be rushing to sign up. People have a very strong BS meter. Do we actually care? Do we do the work in the community? You don’t need a marketing or branding strategy if you are doing it for the right reason. When something is good, you can put it out raw.
We hope you enjoyed this discussion of how to provide more accessible care and research to diverse communities. If you want to hear from more esteemed board members like Dr. Adam Ramsey, please stay tuned for the next board member interview launching next month! Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss it.