Patient centricity has become a best practice for the clinical trial industry — but how do you go about measuring the return on patient engagement?
As clinical trial costs continue to rise, sponsors are continually searching for innovative ways to make the process more efficient. Personalized and flexible digital marketing campaigns, improved data sharing and transparency, patient-centric trial design, mHealth and remote patient monitoring technologies — all of these elements have one thing in common: they aim to improve the participant experience during the clinical research process.
The idea is that by enhancing the level of patient engagement in clinical studies, sponsors can improve patient recruitment, retention, and adherence, thereby shortening trial and approval timelines.
DIA Global Chief Executive Barbara Lopez Kunz recently published an article on Clinical Leader that emphasizes the importance of patient engagement, as well as a few key elements that will help justify investment in patient-centric initiatives (PCIs), and maximize the associated returns. Here are a few of the key takeaways from her piece.
Why Patient Engagement Matters
In order to illustrate the importance of quality engagement in clinical trials, Kunz points to its impact in consumer-facing industries. Recent Gallup research, she explains, suggests that companies who invest heavily in engagement strategies see a 63% reduction in customer attrition, a 55% increase in their “share of wallet,” and a 50% increase in productivity. It follows that an increased focus on (and investment in) PCIs in clinical studies could generate similar upticks in key metrics related to trial efficiency.
Based on the volume of patient centricity-related content being published across the web right now, it seems as though this correlation isn’t exactly a big secret. In fact, recent joint research from DIA and Tufts CSDD suggests that more than 65% of the pharmaceutical and biotech organizations surveyed are investing in PCIs to increase engagement during the drug development process. At the same time, the study indicates that while companies are investing in these initiatives, they may not be completely sure of how to best go about achieving the desired results.
Measuring the Return on Patient Centricity
According to Kunz, there are “three key steps to take” when it comes to measuring the efficacy of a patient engagement strategy.
1. Establish definitions and objectives at the outset
before time, energy, and resources into PCIs, you must define what “quality patient engagement” means for your organization. Additionally, you should decide “what types” of patients and patient advocacy organizations you want to engage at the outset. The sooner you begin engaging patients and PAOs, the better — this helps to “[elevate] patient needs and concerns throughout the development lifecycle.”
2. Take a multifaceted approach
The DIA/Tufts CSDD study identifies a number of inexpensive PCIs that yield high returns from an engagement perspective. For instance, the study indicates a correlation between patient-centric protocol development and reductions in trial timelines and costs. Kunz specifically calls out three high-ROE PCIs that sponsors should consider:
- Advocacy group support and involvement
- Patient advisory panels
- Social media engagement
3. Identify key ROE metrics
Securing buy-in for PCIs and patient centricity in general requires effectively demonstrating its impact on your organization’s bottom line. As such, you need to identify key metrics that show the tangible “value of return on meaningful engagement.” The DIA/Tufts CSDD study offers a number of helpful suggestions, including:
- Improved trial performance — e.g., faster planning, approval, and enrollment
- Improved study volunteer feedback and patient activation measures (PAM) scores
- Improved visibility and reach — particularly through the use of digital technologies and marketing tactics
- Improved long-term drug development portfolios
In an increasingly consumer-driven healthcare market, it’s no longer enough to simply say we’re committed to patient centricity and engagement. Unless we rethink our approach to patient recruitment, as well as trial design and execution, it’s unlikely we’re going to see an improvement in cost efficiency or study outcomes anytime soon.