Too often, clinical trial managers focus so much on the recruitment, scheduling, administration, expenses, results, and other details of a trial that they forget one very important element: the patients. The people participating in your trials aren’t just another bit of data to enter in your CTMS—they’re human beings, and their experience interacting with your trial greatly impacts your chances of current and future success.
Because patients represent a crucial part of your clinical trial equation, your team should make every effort to make interactions with them as smooth and pleasant as possible. If you increase their comfort and alleviate their confusion, your chances of retaining them for the current trial—and recruiting others for future trials—are boosted.
A Scottish study found that clinical trial patients had little or no information about what the experience would be like once the trial got underway. For example, more than a third had no specific expectations of what trial participation would end up looking like. In recruitment messaging, and in pre-trial interactions with recruited patients, your staff should be as clear and open as possible about the experience, so the participants feel as little uncertainty as possible.
Effective study design must keep the patient experience in mind. Patient apps, wearables, and other technical elements must be easy to use. Participants should be instructed on their use, and administrators should give them a responsive contact to reach out to if they have problems or questions. Any interaction required outside the site environment—medication shipments, at-home assessments and more—should also be simple and clearly communicated.
Taking part in a trial frequently requires participants to incur expenses or forgo income in order to continue participation. They may miss work to travel to a site. Getting to and from the location likely means the outlay of a bus pass or gas money. Extending engagement incentives, monetary awards, travel assistance, and other tools that cover or alleviate such expenses can help mitigate any obstacles standing in a prospective patient’s way.
Communication during trial
It is important not to let the fear of the unknown negatively color a patient’s experience during the trial. Providing patients with all of the important information about the trial, why actions are being taken, and why administrators are doing helps a patient feel aware and informed. Greater awareness means less trepidation, and the decreased risk they will drop out due to anxiety. Read more here.
Closure can prove to be important for the patient as well as the trial manager. Asking a patient about what they feel went right and wrong—and what could be improved—garners helpful insights for trial sites, so they can improve their results on future trials. However, it also demonstrates to trial participants that contribution is valued. If they harbor any lingering discomfort about the trial, the simple act of asking can help alleviate those negative feelings, increasing their chances of future participation and spreading the word to friends and family.
Because patients are a vitally important element of clinical trials, it is wise to treat them not as just another resource, but as valued customers. For more information on enhancing the clinical trial patient experience, reach out to Bio-Optronics today.