Several weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend MAGI East, a clinical research conference that brings together 600+ professionals to discuss best practices and standardization of the industry.
If there’s one buzz-worthy phrase to take away from this year’s conference – it’s “patient centricity.”
Now, this isn’t a new concept. Patient centricity has always been front and center for the research industry in many regards, but in recent years, multiple stakeholders are paying more attention and driving real traction in this area of research. One of the more interesting sessions I attended was a panel discussion including Greg Sweatt of ePatientFinder, Joan Chambers of CenterWatch, Ashley Tointon of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, and Louisa Daniels of Pfizer. This panel of experts focused their discussion on patient centricity and the challenges and opportunities associated with patient-centric clinical trials. For me, there were five notable takeaways from the session that address key topics in patient-focused clinical research:
1. Patient centricity and patient engagement are different challenges to solve
The panelists started off by first defining the term “patient centricity” as there are many interpretations. They alluded, and cautioned, that some sites incorrectly interchange “patient engagement” and “patient centricity.” According to these experts, patient engagement is a participant’s activity during the trial, where patient centricity is really a frame of mind held by site leadership and operations to provide the best possible patient care throughout a protocol.
2. Basic needs like transportation need to be considered
Patient centricity starts with the trial participant in mind, and for clinical trials, covering some of the most basic needs can be very valuable. Healthcare transportation is a $6 billion dollar market, and companies like Uber and Lyft are noticing. Sites should be considering how they can include basic needs like transportation to study visits in their budgeting process to help make the trial as frictionless as possible for patients.
3. The PI – Physician relationship is really important
To help a patient feel at ease and informed about a clinical trial, the relationship between their physician and the principal investigator (PI) running the trial is very important. Simple steps such as the PI talking through a clinical trial with the physician (i.e., “If your patient enrolls, this is how I would treat your patient”), can make the physician more likely to recommend the right patients for trials. Based on a study completed at Tufts University, 82% of physicians said they would be more willing to refer patients if they had a relationship with the PI, and 72% of patients say they would participate if their doctor recommended the trial. When the PI and physician are on the same page, the patient feels empowered knowing they are surrounded by knowledgeable providers who are all working together on their care.
4. Create a clinical advisor desk
One key takeaway from this session was to create a clinical trial advisor desk that would bring all clinical trials at the site to the forefront of the clinic. The purpose of the desk would be to inform patients about trials that are available and to be a resource for providers. Although this may not be a realistic reality for smaller sites, having a centralized area of knowledge about trials at the site-level could help minimize the information gap.
5. Run a mock trial
What if you were able to uncover challenges and roadblocks in your trial before you even opened to accrual? The panelists talked about the benefits of a mock trial, and the ability to see how the clinical trial will unfold in terms of timing, process, and operations. This can help uncover unanswered questions and allow staff to set realistic patient expectations. A smoother clinical trial experience can improve a patient’s overall impression of your site and potentially increase patient retention.
Patient centricity can mean a lot of things–but ultimately, it means putting the patient first in everything you do.
We want to know what you think–what are your challenges when it comes to being a patient-centric site? Leave your response in the comments below.
You can also learn more about patient centricity in clinical trials with these related resources: