The Clinical Trial Digital Patient Engagement Challenge: Improved Trial Participation
by Priya Menon
As more people turn to social media, internet, and mhealth tools for healthcare information, digital patient engagement platforms become the imperative source for implementing strategies for improving trial participation. Engaging participants in clinical development does not begin at the recruitment stage of a clinical trial but requires a lifecycle approach and essentially involves empowering patients.
As patient engagement in clinical trials take multiple shapes, the end goals are nearly always the same.
- Provide patients with needed information
- Motivate them throughout the trial to encourage retention and compliance
Patient drop-out hovers at approximately 30-35 percent, but with new digital patient engagement tools, patients have more options for involvement and support for remaining in a trial.
Clinical Trial Digital Tools
Services like TrialX’s clinical trial finder tool Dory, offers a good example of digital patient engagement in support of boosting trial participation. Dory is a patient-facing tool that helps drive patient participation in trials.
There are limited resources to help patients find trial treatments, and the online clinical trial finders that do exist are not navigable and make it difficult for patients to find which trial could be right for them. Dory with its patient-centered interface allows patients to browse all clinical trials or search for disease specific ones. The users can directly email or call the study team via Dory.
When too few patients engage in clinical trials, researchers and developers cannot glean the necessary information to create and approve the drug, keeping these treatments from reaching even more patients. TrialX also hosts a clinical trial management platform, iConnect, that connects patients to trials.
This online platform (in use by NYU, UPENN, MMRF) allows investigators to improve online awareness of their trials, communicate with interested participants and monitor recruitment metrics. iConnect is specifically designed to facilitate patient-recruitment for academic medical centers, sponsors, and patient advocacy groups.
Dory and iConnect are starting points to help patients who are unaware of the options that exist for them in the form of clinical trials, and investigators to have an easier and more convenient resource to engage deeper with emerging therapeutic opportunities and alternatives.
Mobile Clinical Innovations
Patient portals are often viewed as critical tools to improve patient engagement, but not every consumer is able to access their health data from a home computer. According to some healthcare professionals, offering a mobile patient portal is the critical next step for expanding access to personal health information and raising the level of engagement for patients who may prefer to use smartphones and other mobile devices to manage their health.
Mobile clinical innovations have enabled the industry as a whole to focus on engaging and retaining patients. With the average dropout rate being 30% across all clinical trials, it’s no doubt that clinical trials need to improve patient engagement and retention. Trials that fail to engage patients experience higher dropout rates. In fact, 85% of clinical trials fail to retain patients. Patient retention and engagement is extremely important for the success of the trial. Patients also dropout for different reasons: schedule conflicts, forgetting visits, and misunderstood expectations. Simply going digital can easily prevent most of these occurrences.
Digital technology can be used in clinical trials to qualify, consent, enroll and engage patients through a website or mobile device. Once a patient is digitally enrolled, mobile clinical technology speeds up research through digital surveys, reminders for medication and appointments. These activities happen seamlessly through wearable devices and the patient’s own smart phone.
TrialX’s recently launched research study app making platform – Appbakery, empowers researchers to make their own study apps for both Android and iOS platforms without any need for programming. These study apps collect patient generated health data and track lifestyle, psychosocial behavior, fitness, nutrition, sleep and a lot more via surveys, or sensors in wearables and mobile devices.
mHealth and other digital health technologies have emerged as viable tools for facilitating patient engagement. However, in order to ensure these technologies contribute to meaningful engagement, patients need high health and digital literacy.
Upcoming DIA 2017 Annual Meeting is hosting an interesting session on impact of digital patient engagement on trial participation. The sessions aims to understand the bottlenecks in patient participation and measuring engagement outcomes.
TrialX is exhibiting at booth # 2513 and look forward to seeing folks there!