Improving patient centricity through better relationships between sites and sponsors


The biopharma industry is aiming to deliver more patient-centric decentralised clinical trials (DCTs), and sponsors and sites are focusing on how various models and technologies can help enhance the participant experience in their clinical trials. 

Healthcare providers, researchers, advocacy groups, etc., are increasingly interacting with patients, giving rise to a need to tailor patients' experiences to ensure successful enrolment. In addition to improving patient retention, patient-centric research models help reduce dropout that may be due to difficulties logging in and reporting results, scheduling too many appointments at a single facility or using multiple reporting websites. Consequently, patients can be discouraged from participating in future studies if their experience isn’t positive, impacting other research.  

Sites and sponsors adopting a patient-centric approach can enable patients to report their information online and streamline in-person interactions by creating a more personalised experience for patients to easily interact with sponsors and sites, improving the overall patient experience for clinical trials. Just as retailers personalise customer interactions and shopping experiences through texts, online sites, and so on, it will be necessary for the clinical trial industry to follow suit.  

Understanding the challenges 

Developing a new study can be both burdensome and inefficient, even for sites with considerable experience. Recruiting and retaining patients, as well as paying them, can take a considerable amount of effort. For most sites, clinical trials can be challenging, even when the conditions are ideal. Missing enrolment targets, trial delays, endpoints doubling and data collected from structured and unstructured sources are not the exception, but now more the norm. In addition, some patients struggle with travel to sites, long waits for appointments with healthcare providers, mobility issues, and unclear feedback, all of which can contribute to a significant dropout rate. 

Clinical research sites are critical to the success of any trial, and their experience should be continually reviewed and streamlined. Investigators, study coordinators, and site staff need self-service access to information and documentation through streamlined clinical applications to run trials with the maximum amount of patient focus, compliance, and efficiency. With this approach, redundancies inherent in study-start processes can be eliminated and transparency can be ensured between sites and sponsors throughout the entire trial process. With SaaS-based applications, patients can be engaged effectively and informed efficiently, with streamlined processes and improved workflows. 

Orchestrating a better experience for patients, sponsors, and sites alike 

Through the implementation of technology that provides a single source of truth in clinical trials and the use of a patient-centric platform, innovative clinical trials can be managed and accelerated efficiently by orchestrating processes, workflows, and communication between sponsors, sites, and patients. With this enhanced collaboration, sponsors gain visibility into clinical trial data and workflows and uncover new insights through data-driven analysis. Benefits include:

  • Patients: Even though patients do not decide which technologies will be used in their clinical trials, they are often the ones interacting with them and, hopefully, reaping the benefits of those technologies. Through easy access to information throughout their clinical trial journey, patients can enjoy a "retail-like experience". As a result, patients are empowered throughout the process, leading to greater engagement and empowerment. 
  • Sites: When clinical operations are simplified for site staff and principal investigators, the trial runs more smoothly and efficiently. It is important for sites to ensure that the technology deployed in a study does not burden their patients. By enhancing processes and workflows, future clinical trials can be streamlined. This reduces burden on site personnel, allowing them to manage patient engagement, engage with them in meaningful ways and employing retention tasks more effectively.  
  • Sponsors: By orchestrating interactions between sites and patients, sponsors can conduct more innovative, precise, and faster studies and gather data that supports new drug approvals more effectively. With more data being collected by sponsors than ever, with the right technology solutions, they can collect more high-quality data and information that will deliver actionable insights, enabling them to make smarter decisions faster throughout their trials and resulting in improved operational efficiency. Furthermore, this facilitates enhanced long-term patient engagement. 

Patient centricity is more than reducing travel times or using technology to make documents easier to access. While these decisions ease patient burdens, patient-centric trials need to be designed around patient needs. However, a certain population may prefer digital tools for every interaction, while others may prefer face-to-face interaction with investigators or regular visits to their doctor. The key to a truly patient-centric trial is one that takes in the specific needs of the trial’s patient base, uses the right technology and approach to understand the patient journey, and shapes the trial around the insights from the study.

If sponsors use an agile approach when planning, these preferences can be accommodated. With a purpose-built platform that improves performance and compliance for sites and sponsors by standardising clinical operations, sites will be able to succeed and patient enrollment and retention will be easier, leading to a faster trial to database lock and a faster time to market for sponsors.

Melissa Easy
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Melissa Easy
11 May, 2023