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Patient Convenience in 2020: New Solutions to Meet the Needs of Clinical Trial Participants

It’s important to me that what I do for a living helps to make the world a better place. I think many people share those sentiments, but it’s not always easy to find employment somewhere that ensures you keep a roof over yours and your family’s heads while at the same time going home each night feeling like you’re making a positive impact in the world. At Greenphire, our ideas and solutions are actually helping the successful advancement of drug development and new treatments by streamlining clinical trial workflows, and having the opportunity to lead the innovation team in this effort has been incredibly rewarding for me. What we’re doing and achieving here has real purpose, the results of which are helping people, even people that I personally know and care about. That is a powerful motivating force.

As Chief Product Officer, my role is focused on defining the vision for end-to-end financial workflow automation across the full spectrum of clinical trial stakeholders, and ultimately finding ways to create value for patients, research sites, CROs and study sponsors. In order to identify the next generation of tools needed to create value for people, it is imperative that you truly understand their challenges. And to do that, you need access to information. You need to engage people and get as much input and feedback as you can. Great solutions often are not birthed in a dark room. To solve real world problems, you need to dig in and understand the challenges by hearing from the people who live them every day.

Last year, our organization did exactly that and made a significant investment in garnering stakeholder feedback across customers, users and non-users. We conducted client satisfaction surveys, user surveys with research sites, broader research site surveys in collaboration with the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS), customer focus groups and even in-person site user forums with both patients and site personnel. This input has shaped our product innovation roadmap, providing insights to drive enhancement opportunities that are sure to improve the overall clinical trial participant journey as well as the user experience for sites, sponsors and CROs.

Personally, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to engage in many of these conversations directly, having presented at numerous industry as well as Greenphire-specific events, both domestic and abroad, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Poland and Australia. Throughout those travels and engagements, I was able to converse not only with sponsors, CROs and research sites, but also with patients themselves. And as it relates to clinical trials, there is no more important stakeholder than the patient.

 

Here are few things that were thematic in my various conversations:

  • Keep the patient at the forefront. Don’t put the patient in a position of inconvenience in your clinical trial. Consider “a day in the life” of what it would be like to live with a certain condition and also when participating in a study. How will the patient get to the clinic? What assistance might they require or benefit from? What financial, logistical or other hurdles might they be facing? How can you make things easier for them?
  • Make Patient Feedback a Focus. Many sites and patients expressed limitations in a patient’s ability to provide feedback about their experiences throughout a trial. Patient communication is critically important before, during and after a trial. Proactive protocol reviews, mapping patient journeys and challenges, establishing post-study feedback loops – all of these things are important to understand how to drive betterment. More and more sponsors are inviting patients to review protocols before they go live. It’s a key need right now, and sites and patients alike agree that sponsors would be smart to conduct more protocol simulations up front. Ultimately, enabling feedback is critical as it gives patients a voice and can help shape the future of how clinical trials are conducted.
  • Understand the blockers and remove them. When patients must travel greater distances, and spend more time at the clinic, these structural obstacles can cause them to drop out of a study, or even deter them from enrolling at all. In the end, asking patients what would make a clinical trial more convenient and offering solutions that remove those financial and logistical barriers can increase recruitment and retention, leading to a more efficient and successful trial.

 

However, it was a conversation that I had with a cancer patient in Australia that really struck a chord with me. Like many people, I’ve lost loved ones to cancer, so it was uplifting to hear how participating in a clinical trial gave her a second chance at life, and that the convenience programs provided at her site ensured that she didn’t face out-of-pocket expenses on top of the emotional and physical toll the disease was taking on her. She described for me challenges that exist as well – there are still many - and thus opportunities for improvement throughout the patient experience. The key point of our conversation was that in the most minimal sense, programs aimed at patient convenience make difficult situations more accommodating, yet in some instances, they can also become the difference between life and death.

This is why I’m passionate about product development here at Greenphire – solving problems through technology innovation isn’t about growing a business. It’s about helping real people with real challenges and making the world a better place. Helping to grow a successful business is just icing on the cake.

Patient convenience isn’t just an industry buzzword. To be truly patient-centric, we need to make clinical trials actually convenient for patients. While clinical research offers new medical breakthroughs, participating in trials can be out of reach for many patients. Less than 5% of eligible patients actually participate in clinical trials and once in the trial, there is a 30% dropout rate. Together, we can change this with commitment, collaboration and dedication. I’ll be presenting alongside Roche at the upcoming 2020 SCOPE conference next month to talk about why patient convenience services are so crucial to the success of global clinical trials. In our presentation, we’d like to highlight what you feel patient convenience really means, and more importantly what is standing in the way of offering services that reduce the burden on patients. Please take this short survey to have your input included.

I encourage all sponsors, sites and CROs to think about making their trials patient-centric in 2020. Don’t just think about patient convenience when it’s convenient for your organization. Put the patient first.

What Does Patient Convenience Mean To You?

 

Kyle Cunningham
Written by Kyle Cunningham

As Chief Product Officer, Kyle leads the strategic direction of product development, ensuring that Greenphire solutions are constantly evolving to address client needs.