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Use virtual visits to enhance the patient centricity of clinical trials – MedCity News

Posted: October 13, 2020 at 9:58 am


After a concerted effort by our industry over the last several years, sponsors, clinical research organizations (CROs) and clinical trial suppliers have added patient centricity to our vocabulary and study planning.

The shift to not just think about the patient but think as the patient is a critical effort to advance clinical research for and with patients. Patient-focused strategies such as protocol design insights, focus groups, satisfaction surveys, indication-specific content and study results sharing continue to evolve as potential standard approaches in research studies. These strategies enable more patient-centric approaches and are important but are not the only solutions required to be patient centric.

Participants travel to specific research locations (sometimes an hour or more away) at specific times (which often means taking time off of work) to conduct assessments that in many cases can be conducted remotely. In between study visits, it can be challenging for patients to provide clinically relevant information and quickly connect with their sites to complete study activities. 15% to 40% of patients enrolled in clinical studies drop out before they are completed, delaying study timelines and new product launches. These delays can cost $600,000 per day in lost revenue opportunities for a niche drug and as much as $8 million for a blockbuster drug, underscoring the importance of patient retention in clinical trials.

Fortunately, there is an additional way to improve engagement, retention and timelines that has been brought to the forefront as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Telehealth virtual visits have been accelerating as an option available for sponsors throughout the global clinical research industry. Rather than requiring participants to go to sites for every check-in or visit, many clinical trial leaders have turned to telehealth, not only to keep operations steady during challenging times but also to adopt and offer an additional patient-centric approach to studies.

Bringing the study visits to patientsThe pandemic gave a new sense of urgency to patient-centric solutions that extended the site into a patients home safely. In the midst of the rampant spread of Covid-19 and fears about contracting it, many patients were reluctant to travel to a centralized location and some patients had concerns with home visits. As unemployment numbers increased due to the shutdown, participants (and their loved ones) were also more reluctant to take time off work and travel outside of their community. Yet it was critical that these life-changing, and in some cases life-saving, clinical trials continue.

Advances in telehealth offered an ideal solution. Rather than bringing patients to the clinic, sponsors and CROs could bring the study visits to patients. This approach enabled visits to continue (albeit remotely) to capture as many of the protocol-required assessments as possible without in-person interaction. Throughout the pandemic, our study stakeholders have been creating new habits around virtual meetings, video teleconferencing and conducting activities outside of brick-and-mortar locations.

This does not infer that in-person visits should be eliminated but does establish that patients, sites and sponsors are adopting virtual visits as an option to provide flexible approaches for study activities. This hybrid omni-channel approach that includes a mix of on-site, telehealth, phone, home health and mobile app creates a new level of convenience, flexibility and simplicity for patients, encouraging them to remain with the clinical trial.

Telehealth creates patient-centric benefitsIncorporating the use of telehealth offers many patient-centric benefits that can be used to mitigate dropout rates and help bring clinical trials to close on-time and on-budget:

Here to stayAs we continue to manage through the pandemic and plan for studies post-pandemic, it is clear that telehealth as a patient-centric approach has the ability to become a standard option for studies. By enabling a more hybrid approach to clinical trials with the added flexibility of telehealth, studies can improve patient-centricity, which will ultimately improve recruitment, engagement, and retention.

Photo: ronnachaipark, Getty Images

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Use virtual visits to enhance the patient centricity of clinical trials - MedCity News

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