Instant Access to Precise Information: Four strategies to elevate patient experience in clinical trials (Part 1)



It is no secret that billions of dollars and tens of years are spent in taking one single pharmaceutical drug to market, delaying access to potentially life-saving treatments for millions of patients every day. While we all demand rigorous scientific research to prove the safety and efficacy of each treatment that reaches patients, should we really accept the 10+ year clinical trial lifecycle as an expected norm?

One significant driver of clinical trial delays is patient dropouts. According to Forte Research, the average patient dropout rate across all clinical trials is an alarming 30%1. We set out on a mission to find the reasons from those who live it every day — the patients and the study coordinators.

In this four-part series, we will identify major gaps in patient experience in clinical trials, and we will explore ways to address them to reduce patient dropouts and bring life-saving drugs to market faster.

Meet Jane

To truly understand a patient’s experience in a clinical trial, we should try and put ourselves in her shoes. Meet Jane —

Jane is dealing with a mild but chronic illness and recently learned about a 3-year Phase III clinical trial for a new treatment. She has passed multiple screenings at a nearby clinic and is motivated to enroll in the trial to help in getting the treatment to market. 
After a full day of demanding screening tests and procedures, the study coordinator walks Jane through a 20+ page informed consent document. The process takes about two hours, and Jane has the opportunity to ask questions before signing the document. Jane is then sent home with the informed consent document, a second 20+ page information sheet, and a set of instructions for taking the study medication once a day, and completing a diary once a week.

Jane Has a Question

In today’s connected world, 72% of internet users seek health information online2. Over the years, consumers have increasingly grown accustomed to instant access to all information, even at 2am on a Saturday night. Patients participating in a clinical trial are not an exception. Besides, the rigorous and complex nature of clinical trials increases their need for easy access to precise information.

What happens when two months after enrolling in the study, Jane takes an Advil at 2 am on a Saturday, and vaguely remembers needing to do something about non-study medications? She can’t call the site on a Saturday night. She can try to search online for an answer, but given the strict and private nature of clinical trials and associated information, whatever she comes across will likely be inaccurate at best and harmful at worst. She can always go back to the informed consent and information sheets given to her on the first day. But she has left them in her car parked at a friend’s house. Even if she had them, how long can she spend searching through 40 pages of documents before she falls asleep?

None of Jane’s options help her, or the study.

Enabling Instant Access to Precise Information

Technology has long had the ability to bring information to patients’ fingertips and to layer it with the strict security and privacy requirements of clinical trials. All approved patient consent forms and information sheets can be hosted on a secure patient portal online, only accessible to patients with proper authentication.

But Jane still needs to go through pages of dense study content for an answer to a simple question.

What if — Jane could replicate the experience of asking the knowledgeable site staff her question, and getting an answer right away, but online and 24/7 instead?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the answer. Online always-on chatbots can be trained to understand Jane’s questions, and can mine through pages of approved study material in a matter of seconds and respond back. They are the perfect tool for sponsors and site staff to ensure timely and accurate answers for patients — improving patient satisfaction, and ensuring trial data accuracy as a result of informed patient actions.



In Part 2, we will explore the daily burdens of clinical trials for patients and ways to alleviate them.

Brite Health Co. develops data-driven patient-first technology solutions for improving engagement and adherence in clinical trials. More at www.britehealth.co

References


  1. Forte Research https://forteresearch.com/news/infographic-retention-in-clinical-trials-keeping-patients-on-protocols
  2. Pew Research http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/01/15/health-online-2013/

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