Doctors having a discussion, holding digital tablet; patient-centric clinical trials concept

Patient-Centric Clinical Trials: Leveraging Technology for Enhanced Participant Engagement

Patient-centered care is a key concern across the healthcare and life sciences landscape. Clinical trial teams are on board with the need to provide patient-centric care during clinical trials. 

With the right technological solutions, decentralized clinical trials can provide the support patients need for better engagement. Choosing digital solutions that work for trial participants and researchers can foster communication, boost retention, and improve the quality and completeness of captured data. 

Digital Adaptations Can Support Patient Engagement

Decentralized clinical trials seek to lower barriers for both clinical trial participants and for researchers. A decentralized trial can reduce overall trial costs, lower patient burdens regarding travel and time spent, and offer a clearer view of how patients respond to treatments and therapies integrated into their daily lives. 

Yet decentralized trials have also faced challenges. “Despite the intuitive attractiveness of bringing research to participants rather than making them come to central study sites, widespread decentralized enrollment has not been common in clinical trials,” write Dorothy Dulko and fellow researchers in a 2023 study in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science. 

Dulko et al. sought to address some of these challenges by combining digital tools and “clinical trial in a box” features in a study of COVID-19 infections conducted in 2020. The study used digital communications, telehealth, and sample self-collection kits mailed to participants. Researchers found that:

  • 84 to 100 percent of participants showed up for their scheduled telehealth visits over the course of the study.
  • 94.6 to 96 percent of all specimens were successfully collected and processed.
  • Fewer than 10 percent of participants dropped out of the study, with a peak dropout of 6.7 percent and a mean of 4.1 percent. 

When asked about barriers to participation in the study, participants said “technology issues” were common, including connectivity issues during telehealth visits. However, all participants said that when these issues occurred, they were able to switch to a different means of communication with the provider and complete the visit. 

Dulko et al. demonstrated that in decentralized clinical trials, offering tools that patients understand and that can adapt to their needs plays a key role in maintaining participant engagement.

ANJ416 TWO Healthcare professional explaining findings on tablet to patient; patient-centric clinical trials concept 

Addressing the Reasons Patients Discontinue Care

Digital tools for boosting engagement can also address some of the biggest reasons people discontinue medical care. An Accenture study found that 30 percent of patients chose a new provider in 2021, and 25 percent did so because they were unhappy with their existing care, write Accenture’s Loren McCaghy and Sarah Sinha. Reasons for switching providers included a desire for:

  • Improved customer service and communication.
  • Better digital or mobile interfaces and interactions.
  • More convenient healthcare options, including telehealth or digital reporting of symptoms and treatment adherence. 

Participants in clinical trials have similar needs to patients in primary care or specialist settings. Clinical trial participants also need consistent, clear communication with healthcare professionals during each phase of the trial. 

Using digital touchpoints to communicate with patients and caregivers can boost clinical trial participants’ motivation — a key factor in whether participants stay in a trial or drop out, says Arrash Yassaee, Global Clinical Director for Evidence Generation and Information Governance at Huma. Another driving factor in empowering patients and maintaining their motivation is providing the information patients and caregivers need in a single, easy-to-use platform. 

Convenience in sharing data and receiving information can lower barriers to participation for those who must otherwise travel or take time from work to engage with clinical trial teams. The right digital and mobile interface solutions can support these efforts, thus boosting patient engagement.

Patient with mask using cell phone; patient-centric clinical trials concept 

Choosing a Digital Solution That Works for Trial Participants and Researchers

Streamlining the collection, processing and submission of clinical trial data is essential during all phases of clinical research. Solutions like Anju’s TrialMaster allow phase I-IV clinical trial teams to connect with clinical trial participants, organize data, and expedite the development and approval of new treatments and therapies. 

TrialMaster’s benefits include:

  • Intuitive interface. TrialMaster’s interface is easy to use: users receive guided prompts and immediate feedback — even while typing characters into designated fields — which minimizes data entry errors that can result in expensive data cleaning. Moreover, site researchers, patients self-reporting their outcomes and sponsor staff can access the platform from any device (desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone). All system screens adapt in real-time to the size of the device. 
  • Built-in ePRO. Patients can use any device to send data directly to the EDC system, enhancing opportunities for patient-reported outcomes. TrialMaster provides a streamlined, single environment for PRO data collection and immediate access to the information for researchers. 
  • eConsent tools. Patients can complete the eConsent process directly within the EDC system. When patients log in, they can enter their own data, launch videos and documents, complete assessments, and provide necessary eSignatures. 

These and other features offer ease of use and enhanced accessibility, balanced with data privacy, security, and consent capabilities. With the right digital solutions, both clinical trial participants and researchers can build connections and manage data effectively — leading to patient-centric care in the decentralized clinical trial setting.

Images used under license by

Authored by Tom Kauffman, Product Manager, eClinical Division

Tom Kauffman, a Product Manager at Anju’s eClinical Division, brings two decades of experience from esteemed organizations like Oracle Health Sciences, Phase Forward, and Parexel, where he contributed significantly to advancing eClinical solutions. Tom adeptly applies his nuanced understanding of human behavior to drive innovation and deliver impactful solutions in product management. Committed to enhancing efficiency and efficacy in clinical research, Tom remains at the forefront of industry trends, prioritizing user experience and leveraging technology to meet stakeholders’ evolving needs.

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