Patients have a lot to gain from participating in clinical research studies. They receive cutting edge care from certified clinicians who are invested in their well-being, and clinical trials are known to provide additional time for education and interaction between patients and providers. Participants are also the first to gain access to potentially life-changing medications and they get to contribute to the development of new drugs that could change the outcome of medical diagnoses for millions of people around the globe.
According to a survey by The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), 87% of patients want to participate in relevant clinical trials.¹ There are challenges, however, and patient engagement is a big one. Traditionally, it has been mandatory for patients to travel to a specified clinical site for every appointment on a very specific timeline. In many cases, this mandate makes it impossible for patients to commit, as much as they may want to. Additionally, a lack of consistent communication between visits can cause a patient’s interest to decrease over time. Fortunately, the introduction of new technology into the clinical trial process is greatly diminishing this issue.
Improve Patient Engagement with New Technology Solutions
Expanded Patient Education – Patients benefit from additional knowledge-sharing and interaction with their Principal Investigator (PI) and other clinicians when using a virtual platform. Patients have a clear line of communication through which the clinical staff can send expanded information on relevant topics via links. Patients also have the ability to ask questions on the platform at any time and can save replies and review them as needed over the course of the trial.
Continual Communication – Building off an initial in-person kick-off appointment, the addition of a dynamic digital connection increases the rapport between patient and physician and sets the stage for ongoing communication. Technology bridges the gap that is sometimes felt in between in-person visits. With several options for keeping in touch, including email, text messages, and video, patients are no longer reliant only on their memory. Additionally, PIs can send reminders when medications are scheduled to be taken to further ensure compliance and retention.
Enhanced Self-Care – While digital solutions may not be able to help consumers take care of every health care need, technology can help them monitor their health, collaborate with providers, and make informed decisions about their care. Both patients and providers must understand the important role patients play in their own care, and they are best equipped to do so with a direct lifeline to their clinician.
While there is a common concern that older individuals may take longer to adapt to technology in their daily lives, research shows that once online they engage at a high level with digital devices and content. In fact, 76% of smartphone-owning older adults use the internet several times a day or more.² Virtual communication helps improve self-management of disease and improves the overall sense of well-being.
Patient engagement via virtual visits and electronic communication also improves study efficiency by saving time for both patients and physicians by not having patients stacked up in the clinic delayed by late arrivals or other unforeseen issues. Leveraging technology is particularly beneficial for patients living in rural or underserved areas where access to clinical trial sites may be limited.
Try a digital technology solution in your next trial. You may be surprised by the increased engagement that virtual trials generate. Want to see the VirTrial platform in action? Contact us today.
¹ CISCRP 2013 Survey
² Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults – http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/05/17/barriers-to-adoption-and-attitudes-towards-technology/