During clinical trials, patient recruitment and engagement are the key factors that unlock better outcomes. However, the pharmaceutical industry is still struggling to get patients engaged with trials despite myriads of innovations designed to enhance successful trial recruitment and engagement processes. Ideally, a clinical trial is a long process that takes months or years to complete, and while patients may be hopeful and motivated at the beginning of a trial, their interest can wane as time passes by.
We will highlight the importance of keeping patients engaged from start to finish and strategies to keep them involved when many things are fighting for their attention.
How to Keep Patients Involved From Start to Finish
How you will keep patients involved and engaged throughout the entire trial period will largely depend on the context, type, and size of the trial, but here are a few tips to get you started:
Accessibility to Information
A crucial factor in successful patient engagement processes is ensuring they access all the information they need. Tackle any barriers to inclusivity like language barriers and visual or aural impairment. For researchers serious about inclusivity, technology offers a myriad of options for improving patient communication and engagement. Some great options include:
- Using a virtual waiting room – Splash’s innovative virtual waiting room (vWR) enables effective patient engagement and follow-up. vWR is an innovative call center that increases the enrollment funnel by supplementing patient follow-up. It helps you stay on top of referrals all the way through the recruitment funnel so that you never miss out on prospective patients. It is also an ideal tool for engaging patients who are not ready to screen yet or are not currently in a flare. In the wake of COVID-19, the platform is becoming instrumental by facilitating zero-contact processes, effectively reducing the risk of patient and staff exposure. Splash’s vWR features appointment reminders, self-scheduling, and other features that enhance a patient’s televisit experience. Use vWR to ensure no potential qualified patients get lost due to timing, symptomatic requirements, and other factors.
- Using digital displays – use digital displays to improve calling when engaging deaf patients undertaking clinical trials. Ensure you also use adjustable content sizing tools and audiovisual aids for visually impaired visitors.
Like everyone else, most patients are accessing virtually everything from their smartphones. The majority of them are comfortable communicating through SMS, mobile applications, and online portals. Smartphones offer an excellent opportunity to engage patients whenever and wherever you need to. Smartphones also enable robust communication that allows patients to leave their feedback quickly, read relevant information through your portal, and speak to their providers at any given time. To achieve better outcomes, use digital tools to facilitate open dialogue with patients that boost your level of engagement. Excellent ideas include:
- Using emails and making regular follow-up calls to keep tabs on patients and monitor their progress
- Creating a patient portal that enables patients and health care providers to interact easily and conveniently
- Creating a robust, reliable, and well-updated website with links to current trends and studies about the disease. There is too much information on the internet, and not all of it is reliable or trustworthy. Providing your own website is quite helpful when patients are looking for important information about a particular condition.
- Providing patient education videos that outline strategies in managing a particular disease
The Value of Keeping Patients Engaged
In the end, the value of keeping patients engaged will improve the success of the trial.
Engagement Improves Patient Compliance
The impact that patient engagement has on the success of a clinical trial cannot be overlooked. It doesn’t only affect the success of trial recruitment and retention of patients, but it is also a critical factor in maximizing the chance of compliance. In most cases, additional resources like leaflets or online resources can improve patient engagement.
Engagement Fosters Trustful Relationships
A key hindrance to clinical trials is mistrust and negative perceptions that patients and the general public have of pharmaceutical companies and researchers. This problem often stems from a breakdown of information flow between the two parties. Engaging patients more can be the start of a trusted relationship where both the researchers and patients understand what is essential for the trials’ success.
Helps target your message
A robust engagement strategy will help patients feel well-informed on critical happenings during trials. Patients have unique needs depending on their age, ethnicities, and health literacy levels, and engaging them regularly helps you understand their preferences when it comes to modes of communication. You will also understand the kind of information they are seeking and what message resonates well with them. When you establish a robust dialogue right from the start of the trials, you will understand your patients better to customize relevant messages that are ideal for their needs throughout the trial.
In a nutshell, at least 80% of clinical trials in the US do not meet their patient recruitment timelines, and about 30% of recruited patients eventually drop out. While there is no silver bullet solution for all recruitment difficulties, efficient patient recruitment and retention can certainly help achieve more accurate results. If you need help recruiting and retaining patients for clinical trials, contact Splash Clinical. Splash Clinical boosts patient enrollment in clinical trials by leveraging data analytics, social media, and mobile technologies.