It’s no secret that one of the greatest challenges facing clinical trials today is patient recruitment and retention. Low participation rates are an industry-wide problem, often stopping a study before it’s even begun. However, there may be a fairly simple solution to this issue.
According to Greg Kline, executive director of Patient and Market Intelligence at the research and development services company Covance, the voice of the patient is rarely prioritized and can even be overlooked in the mission to make trials more efficient and cost effective.
“Insights from more than 65,000 patients show that the number one reason a potential participant will not enroll in a trial is inconvenience,” says Kline. “Anything that we can do to be more accommodating to the patient and increase the convenience factor for participants could change the face of the industry.”
And changing the face of the industry is exactly what Covance seeks to do. For the global firm, this means leveraging daily access to millions of patients via parent company LabCorp, and combining it with the company’s own patient intelligence infrastructure consisting of insights from over 30 indications and 20 different countries.
According to Kline: “From anonymized, aggregated laboratory results of approximately 150 million individuals in the LabCorp database plus our patient intelligence tool, we can see, for example, that there are a specific number of people in a particular area with certain results that are indicative of a particular disease.”
“We can also target the more than 65,000 patients we have in our intelligence tool and add their voices to the mix as well. We are then able to determine what patients within a given radius think about joining a trial and the elements most likely to drive them to participate. This combination of LabCorp data and patient insight data is what we’re finding to be most powerful.”
The result? The ability to craft stronger trial models that address patient preferences, with the goal of enhancing patient convenience as well as recruitment and retention rates.
For example, research has found that the average distance between a clinical trial patient and an investigator site is more than 25 miles. The hope is that reducing this distance will assist in increasing trial enrollment.
By leveraging LabCorp’s more than 1,800 Patient Service Centers, clinical trial patients could be on average three miles away from a laboratory, which could make a huge difference to a participant and minimize inconvenience for them during a trial.
While the proximity to a Patient Service Center is a significant factor in increasing a study’s convenience factor, it’s not the only way the company is improving patient centricity.
“There are many ways that clinical trial models have changed. There is also a movement to be more mobile and to use new tools and technologies,” says Kline.
Virtual trials and mobile health (mHealth) has gained an upsurge of interest in recent years thanks to smartphones and wearable technologies. These advances can help to reduce the frequency of investigator site visits and allow monitoring of key study endpoints throughout the day through the use of devices such as smart patches. When it comes to elevating patient centricity, are virtual trials the most convenient of them all?
Perhaps. But in the meantime, Kline believes we can make significant strides by truly listening to patients. “Everyone wins when you’re learning and listening. Convenience is more than just having easy access to an investigator site; it’s about building a protocol that is designed to be convenient to the patient, with the patient preferences embedded into it.
“We have studied many different patient populations, and the idea that people will go anywhere for a clinical trial is a fallacy. People have daily responsibilities, commitments and costs to consider. But we need to begin to think about the convenience of our patients and develop new and different ways to enhance the trial model to match.”
“What’s truly exciting is that the unique infrastructure of Covance and LabCorp, along with an expanding network of partners, together now allows us to truly bring our clients something different and innovative in this space. To transform the future of clinical trials with an unprecedented level of patient visibility,” concludes Kline.
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