Patient centricity has long been a key goal in healthcare, as well as in clinical research. Sponsors want their participants to be well engaged and have a positive experience throughout the course of their trials. We invest a great deal of time and energy in the effort, yet we often overlook the most significant of touchpoints: the people who interact with patients during their visits at study sites.
The fact of the matter is, for most trials, sites deliver the patient experience in clinical trials. As a result, the best intentions of any sponsor or CRO makes little difference if site/patient relationships fail. Site staff, and extended site staff in the form of home visit teams, are the main, and most likely only tangible, connection to the clinical trial for patients, and as such, are the representatives of the sponsor and indeed the clinical research industry.
As the force on the frontlines of patient engagement and the representative of sponsors and CROs to trial participant populations, sites merit far more attention than they typically get. It might even be fair to say to be patient-centric in clinical trials, you need to be site-centric first. Set your sites up with the support they need so they can provide the best care possible for study participants.
Keeping Sites in Your Sight
What does it mean to be “site-centric” as a step toward patient centricity? It means helping to address the challenges getting in the way of sites delivering the patient experiences CROs and sponsors hope they will deliver.
We’ve previously reported on the challenges site managers describe, including:
- The need for customized, flexible experiences that accommodate physicians and healthcare partners who work differently
- The need to accommodate patients of varied cultures and backgrounds
- The need to integrate clinical research activities and support into investigators’ existing workflows
- The need to streamline study interactions for all staff
- The need for real understanding through training and easy-to-follow visit guidance
One can easily imagine how problems in any of these areas could negatively impact the patient experience. Overwhelmed sites have less time to listen to their patients. If they are struggling to conduct the necessary procedures at each study visit, will they take time to filter study information back to the patients and make them feel like valued members of the team?
If information is hard to find, site staff will not be well positioned to deliver on the sponsors’ and CROs’ goals of patient centricity. Patients will notice that feeling of uncertainty, which won’t likely inspire their confidence in the study.
Fortunately, sponsors and CROs have the power to address these issues and improve the clinical research experience for both sites and patients. Longboat’s technology provides the means to:
- Simplify communication to patients using ‘always available’ online resources
- Improve transparency in trial participation, allowing patients to be truly informed
- Improve site efficiency
- Reduce burdens on staff and patients
- Streamline the clinical trial experience
Inevitably, the results will produce dividends for patient centricity and site centricity too.