Survey: Digital tools, flexible participation and empathy are key drivers for patient engagement in clinical trials
March 27, 2023
Munich, Monday, March 27, 2023 – Climedo and Trials24 have published the results of their global patient survey which was conducted among more than 120 participants. The objective was to better understand clinical trials from a patient’s point of view, including barriers to participation, expectations and how trials can be improved.
Among the 124 respondents, around 30% had previous trial experience and 70% did not but would consider taking part in a trial in the future. Most came from Europe and North America. Almost all age groups (19 to 60+ years) were represented, and the majority (68%) of respondents were female. The most common therapeutic areas represented were oncology, immunology, cardiology, dermatology, pain as well as several rare diseases. The majority of patients had taken part in a Phase I (>20%), II (14%) or III (17%) trial, while Phase IV was slightly less common (8%).
Some of the key findings are highlighted below.
Patient access to clinical trials
- Barriers: Among the greatest obstacles to trial participation were “Unclear or lack of communication or information on the trial course”, “Long journey or too much time required” and “Finding a suitable trial in the first place” (multiple selection).
- Patient recruitment: More than half believed that they would learn about a trial at the doctor’s office or via a patient group, while digital channels were less common or known here (multiple selection).
- Facilitating access: Almost two thirds (64%) believed we need to embrace “More digital technologies, such as wearables or televisits”, while half said both “Shorter travel distances” and “More sensitivity or empathy by staff” were needed (multiple selection).
On-site visits, communication and travel during trials
- Travel distance and frequency: The less frequent the on-site visits (e.g. every two months), the higher the patients’ tolerance for longer journeys (one to two hours or more). Conversely, more frequent on-site visits (e.g. every two weeks) mean a lower tolerance whereby most patients would want to travel for just 30 minutes or one hour.
- Frequency of in-person feedback: Over 70% of patients with trial experience would prefer to receive feedback from an on-site physician on their health status on a monthly basis at most.
- Specific elements in a trial: Under half (44%) believe they could be reporting more information to staff, 28% believe that “Travel time and costs” should be reduced and half would like more “Special attention from trial staff”.
- What patients value most: Patients with trial experience most commonly ranked “Consistent contact persons” (31%), “Participation from home or on the go” (28%), and “Empathy from Healthcare Professionals” (19%) in first place when it comes to factors that matter most to them in a trial. For patients without trial experience, “Participation from home or on the go” was ranked in first place by almost 50%.
Openness towards digital technologies
- Technologies which patients have used: Almost half the patients (44%) with trial experience said they had used no such technologies so far. Among those who had used digital tools, electronic Patient-Reported Outcomes (ePRO), electronic health record (EHR), eConsent and wearables were named.
- Technologies which patients want to use: Most patients (over 50%) would like to use ePRO, a patient cockpit and EHR.
- Digital versus non-digital channels: On average, around 75% of patients preferred digital channels for receiving or sending medical information and are willing to receive such information more frequently via digital channels compared to face-to-face, too.
A look at the future
- Willingness to take part again: Over 80% of patients with trial experience would be willing to take part in another trial in the future. As their reasons, many cited contributing to valuable research, helping others with their condition and the fact that trials are the only relief or hope that they currently have.
- Closing comments: In the final section, patients highlighted the importance of attention towards rare diseases, mental health in trials and supporting vulnerable communities.
“This patient survey reveals three recurring themes: a favorable attitude towards digital technologies in trials, a desire for flexible participation from home or on-the-go and a critical need for empathy and sensitivity towards patients”, says Veronika Schweighart, Co-Founder and COO of Climedo. “For us, this indicates that the industry must shift towards more hybrid trial designs that leverage digital technologies to alleviate patient burden while maintaining human interaction to convey important information and listen to patient needs, e.g. in televisits. The fact that nearly half of the respondents have not used digital technologies in trials is surprising to us and suggests that sponsors and sites must meet patient expectations to optimize participation. Climedo stands ready to assist sponsors, CROs and sites in adopting hybrid clinical trial designs to improve outcomes and generate higher-quality data while saving valuable resources for all stakeholders. We look forward to discussing the results with our network.”
The full survey results can be downloaded here.
Climedo offers a digital platform for hybrid clinical trials and observational studies. The easy-to-use, modular and secure data management software solution includes electronic data collection (EDC), ePRO, eCOA and telemedicine. It enables pharmaceutical and medical device companies to more efficiently validate their post-market medical innovations and capture real-world data in decentralized environments. This accelerates studies, saves costs, and improves data flow and quality while promoting innovative study designs. By seamlessly connecting all stakeholders (industry partners, study sites, physicians and patients) in a cloud-based system, Climedo is revolutionizing clinical research and making studies more accessible and patient-centric. Learn more: www.climedo.com.
Trials24 supports pharmaceutical, biotech and medtech companies as well as CROs in accelerating patient recruitment for their clinical trials. Trials24 specialises in finding suitable patients who are not registered in the trial centres’ databases. Learn more: www.trials24.com.
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