There’s no question that patient recruitment, adherence, and retention are core concerns for researchers. A recent report cited there are now 40 million patients needed for approximately 300,000 clinical trials around the world. Patient issues also rank among the top 3 research challenges:
- • 50% of trials experience delays due to patient challenges
- • 18% of trials fail to recruit a single patient
- • Patient recruitment represents more than 25% of overall trial costs
Paired with these issues is the fact that research costs and complexities are also quickly growing, in many cases significantly reducing ROI for research and development. We work in an intrinsically human-centric industry, and serving populations in need is the ultimate goal. Stats like these raise a core question: What effect can patient-centricity have on costs, timelines, and ROI? Can a greater focus on the patient also accelerate research and development?
There is significant evidence suggesting the answer is yes. A recent study on consumer-facing brands cited that those who successfully engaged their customers saw 63% lower percent lower attrition, 55% higher returns, and a 50% uptick in productivity. The same study argued these benefits translate to significant improvements in clinical research. The takeaway is this: By focusing on the patient, researchers vastly increase their potential to expedite their work and boost ROI.
While there are many strategies researchers can use to improve patient engagement, from social media campaigns to AI. For us at Medrio, we’re always looking at clinical trials from an eClinical lens, and contribute to the patient-centricity movement through our ePRO and eConsent platforms. Let’s look at 3 interconnected ways focusing on the patient can boost ROI:
Better data quality
Making it easier for patients to provide data is a critical way to enhance its quality. When patients are overly stressed or burdened, their information may be less accurate.
Decentralized and hybrid trials are gaining steam and can simplify trial participation. In these trials, patient data is collected automatically from connected devices, meaning less work for patients and researchers. Platforms like ePRO also boost data quality since patients can conveniently fill out surveys from home. We’ve heard stories of site staff seeing patients filling out report forms in the car last minute before visits. Researchers can mitigate situations like this with new tech and gain a bonus of having patient-reported information immediately accessible to monitors.
Timelines to recruit patients can take years and come with high costs. And every time a patient drops out, budgets and schedules are affected negatively. Since half of trials experience delays due to patient issues, novel strategies to keep enrollment up can boost returns.
New possibilities in this area are rapidly emerging. In May 2019, an organization launched a new web-based patient engagement platform to provide participants with study-specific information. This solution aims to increase the visibility of possible study participants to research sites and sponsors, ultimately facilitating faster recruitment timelines.
As far as patient retention goes, trust and cultural competency go a long way. When investigators understand and can emphasize with patients of diverse backgrounds, engagement will benefit. Additionally, multi-media software solutions like eConsent can ensure friends, family, and loved ones fully understand the needs and risks of a trial. With this stronger understanding, patients are less likely to drop out – and researchers will have more bandwidth for their work in the lab.
While better data and shorter timelines often lead to significant cost reductions, eliminating paper holds another key. Costs related to paper – including storage, transcription, and monitor travel – can run up huge bills. As far as patients are concerned, the public does everything from their mobile device, from reading the news to banking to keeping up with friends. A recent survey showed that the average adult spends more than 2.5 hours per day on their phone. Why not meet 21st-century patients where they’re at?
Without innovative strategies to enroll and engage study participants, ROI will continue to be a challenge. On top of this, populations in need will have to wait longer for novel treatments. On the optimistic side of the current patient issues we face is that there is vast room for improvement, and it’s exciting to imagine the live-saving possibilities that await. By starting with the patients’ needs, we facilitate the entire research process, expanding the potential of modern medicine, and gaining higher returns for all the hard work.