March 8th, 2017

Patient Centricity in Clinical Trials Explained, Pt. III


Part three of our four-part series on patient centricity in clinical trials: How does a patient-centric approach actually improve recruitment and retention outcomes?

Patient Centricity in Clinical Trials Explained, Pt. II explained how a patient-centric approach to trial design can actually improve recruitment and retention outcomes while simultaneously increasing operational efficiency across the board.

Part III will focus on patient education and personalized marketing, which sponsors, trial coordinators, and CROs can leverage to enhance the patient experience, as well as the ROI on their marketing efforts.

Don’t Keep Patients in the Dark

Today, one of the biggest barriers to successful trial enrollment and retention is a general lack of awareness within the patient community. For example, according to recent NIH research, approximately 85% of cancer patients are unaware that clinical studies are even a viable option. The same study found that as many as 75% of them would have been willing to enroll in a trial if they’d known it existed.

Of course, primary care providers play a key role when it comes to patient education; however, recent Tufts CSDD research suggests that the number of physicians and nurses actively referring patients has effectively slowed to a trickle, as discussed in Part I of this series.

The point is, we’re never going to see a real uptick in patient awareness if we’re relying solely on physician referrals – especially when you consider prevailing consumer preferences and digital trends. It’s worth pointing out that of the patients who know about clinical trials, 53% found out about them online. Unfortunately, there’s a difference between awareness and understanding. 71% of patients choose not to participate in clinical studies out of fear that they’ll receive a placebo, or that being a “guinea pig” might actually be more dangerous than existing mainstream treatment options.

Clearly, we need to reach out to patients directly and provide them with the proper materials and level of engagement to ensure they have a real understanding of what clinical research is all about, and why a particular study might be the right choice for them.

Seeking Out Tech-Forward Solutions

Patients are taking an increasingly active role in their own healthcare, which means they’re going online, conducting their own research, and weighing their options before making a decision about treatment. As such, we need to adapt to these emerging trends if we want to see a measureable improvement.

Building intuitive, mobile-optimized websites and generating a steady stream of patient-friendly content is a great way to provide your target patient demographic with the information they need to make informed decisions. Moreover, by leveraging the advertising capabilities of the platforms that consumers tend to spend the vast majority of their time on – i.e., Google and Facebook – sponsors can insure that information reaches the right patients in the most cost-effective way possible.

At the end of the day, your clinical trial needs to be seen, heard, and understood. And I don’t say that with only the bottom line in mind – there are millions of individuals in need of the latest and most innovative treatments available, but they’re only going to enroll if they feel comfortable with the study and confident about the outcomes.