“People are experts in everyday living. Physicians are experts in clinical care. Technologies bring them together.” – Patricia Brennan, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, FACMI
As clinical research continues to struggle with recruitment and retention, it makes designing culturally sensitive and personalized interventions essential to empowering greater patient involvement.
Patient empowerment is a cyclical process — as patients accumulate knowledge and comfortability in clinical settings, they gain confidence and self-determination for their own health and health care.
These informed and empowered patients traditionally have a higher level of health literacy and a greater willingness to participate in the clinical process.
With more willing participants, researchers can collect more accurate data that fuels shared decision making, reduces health disparities, prioritizes the patient’s voice, and provides relevant patient education earlier in the process.
There is a direct correlation between empowered patients and meaningful outcomes that inform stakeholders and eClinical solutions are helping to bridge the gap. Let’s take a look at how your eClinical can become a powerful tool for patient engagement that yields high-quality outcomes.
The Value of Empowered Patients
Patient empowerment refers to patients’ self-efficacy and capacity to make informed and autonomous decisions about their health care. In order to do so, patients must gain knowledge of their health condition, treatment plan, and expectations of their involvement in clinical research.
As patients become more knowledgeable in their care, studies show they’re more likely to develop confidence⎼such as the ability to communicate their needs to healthcare providers or better express their health concerns and preferences.
This combination of increased knowledge and confidence directly impacts the patient-clinician relationship and patient engagement as a whole. Empowered patients are more likely to gather symptom data between appointments and clearly communicate that information to their care team to support stronger decision-making and treatment evaluations.
Increased communication fosters stronger patient engagement, increases the availability of patient-generated data for data sharing and reporting, and even demonstrates a reduction of patient healthcare costs.
Healthcare professionals still play a critical role in the patient journey. Over 49 percent of clinical trial participants said the advice of their healthcare team is critical in their decision to participate in research.
Yet, it’s estimated that healthcare professionals spend as little as six minutes training patients on treatment.4
In minority populations, where there is an inherent mistrust of clinical research, lower levels of health literacy, and documented health disparities, patient empowerment is even more critical. Studies show that Latino and African American populations are less likely to have opportunities to ask questions during provider visits, receive less information on their treatments, and are less likely to be asked their preference in treatment decisions.
Patient empowerment is critical to kickstart the cycle of patient engagement. Trial operators should think critically about how they’re empowering their patients to be knowledgeable, confident, and autonomous in their health journey.
Paired with patient-centric eClinical technology, trial operators can facilitate patient-friendly workflows while yielding more high-quality, accurate data.
eClinical’s Role in Patient Empowerment
Patient empowerment is not a buzzword. It requires a concerted effort by trial operators, site staff, and healthcare professionals alike.
And although technology cannot replace the human factor of patient-centricity, there are eClinical solutions that aid these efforts and make them more efficient.
1. eClinical Achieves Informed Consent
Informed consent is the cornerstone of any successful trial. But traditional consent forms are notoriously long and littered with medical jargon that is hard for the everyday person to digest. Similarly, when clinical research depends on paper processes or unstructured conversations with healthcare workers, it leaves patients feeling uninformed or unable to recall what was shared with them.
This is why as many as 30 percent of patients claim to be unaware of basic aspects of their involvement in clinical research. And experts continue to tell us that when patients don’t understand what’s expected of them, they’re more likely to miss critical site visits or drop out of a study.
When trial operators have eConsent built into their studies, this has been shown to increase patient comprehension, which helps to restore confidence and empower autonomous health decisions. In fact, a 2019 study found that 94 percent of eConsent patients found the forms easily digestible, and total comprehension was improved.
eConsent is able to achieve this by supporting in clinic and remote workflows with paper, electronic, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) workflows. Electronic consent forms with digital features such as quizzes or videos encourage patients to engage and interact with your content without sacrificing global compliance.
All patient PHI is encrypted and safely centralized into a single dashboard for easy reporting and reviewing. Patients can feel safe knowing their intake information is being securely shared with their healthcare team and the trial operators can benefit from real-time consent workflows that generate stronger outcomes.
2. Patient Portals Foster Stronger Patient-Provider Relationships
As mentioned, the patient-provider relationship is critical to the clinical research process. To help facilitate stronger, more seamless communication, trial operators are turning to patient portals or apps that use SMS messages. Providers are using patient portals as a means to boost engagement because they serve both an educational and communicative function.
Trial participation can be confusing between juggling treatments, dosing, and various diary regimens. Patient portals offer a central place to find dosing instructions, consent status, visit reminders, or additional information about their treatment plan.
It allows clinicians to prioritize patient safety by responding quickly to questions and concerns. It can also aid in making the patient feel more comfortable in their care and valued in the trial process. Best of all, patient portals provide a single patient touchpoint that simplifies access to study information while providing real-time, validated data to study teams. In addition to strengthening the patient-provider relationship, portals are known to improve treatment adherence and health outcomes.
3. Game-Changing eClinical Efficiency
Studies continue to show that patients who are actively engaged in their health journey experience better health outcomes.
Even highly engaged patients living with chronic illness are able to experience better health outcomes than less involved patients. That is because they’re more likely to take their medications as prescribed and engaged in self-care and self-monitoring habits.
A study by the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council found that patient engagement is most largely impacted by shared decision making and the amount of time spent between healthcare staff and patients.
Both of these efforts can be supported by the right eClinical technology.
How does eClinical technology foster game-changing efficiency:
- Single Source of Truth—Centralize your study information and increase transparency across study teams for better-shared decision making.
- Sprint Mid-Study Changes—Handle mid-study changes with ease and minimize the need for costly delays or IT support.
- Achieve Faster FPI—Configurable technology accelerates your study build time to achieve first patient in (FPI) in as little as 7 days.
- Pre-Validated Forms—Automate form creation and standardize workflows across teams with pre-validated intake forms.
- Real-Time Data Access—Set workflow-specific permissions and accelerate oversight with real-time access to study progress data.
eClinical technology helps streamline notoriously manual processes in clinical research. Unifying your data across a unified eClinical system centralizes your study information and increases transparency for better-shared decision-making.
All decentralized technologies funnel into a dashboard to create a single source of truth with pre-validated, encrypted environments. With less time managing manual processes, your study teams will have more time to dedicate towards fostering stronger patient engagement.
Not only that, the right eClinical system will inherently use patient-centric workflows that strengthen adherence and engagement without sacrificing compliance.
eClinical That Empowers AND Informs
It can often feel like study operators have to choose between workflows that prioritize the patients OR their trial outcomes. With Medrio’s integrated eSuite, you no longer have to choose.
Our eClinical technology seamlessly integrates through our powerful EDC and comes pre-built with a host of patient-centric workflows. Empower your patients to take control of their health while informing trial operators of real-time study progress.
2 Lanar, S., Acquadro, C., Seaton, J. et al. To what degree are orphan drugs patient-centered? A review of the current state of clinical research in rare diseases. Orphanet J Rare Dis 15, 134 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13023-020-01400-0