Clinical trials are a critical part of medical development, implemented throughout most therapy areas and company sizes. The key to the success of clinical trials lies with the patients who take part and yet, this crucial element can provide obstacles for even the biggest of pharma companies.
Patient participation has been a longstanding issue within the industry, and this can take its toll throughout the entire development process. 30% of patients drop out due to a poor experience and 19% of trials close or terminate early as they don’t have enough patients. This is estimated at costing the industry over $800+bn loss in value as a consequence.* The knock-on effect of this can be seen in the increasing rates of missed product launches, with nearly half (46%) of drug launches that miss are down to a lack of understanding market and customer needs.** From patient recruitment through to engagement and retention, the whole process is about the patient and yet existing processes may not be about the patient as a whole.
Listening to the patients experiences and being in the Patient shoes; allowed me to better empathise with their suffering, hope, hesitation, fear and happiness when feeling better. It demonstrated how the disease impacts on patients’ lives. Also, it made me want to assume my part of responsibility on how we can make patient’s lives’ easier."
Having a strong understanding and empathy for the patients involved with clinical trials and by putting the individuals at the heart of the entire clinical trial process can make a significant difference when it comes to patient participation, engagement and even retention.
Why patient empathy?
While most companies are adopting a patient-centric culture, there is an advantageous level of success that can come from enhancing this with patient empathy. Understanding the potential physical limitations that can come from a participant’s condition is a strong foundation with which to build a clinical trial process. However, by truly understanding the psychological and emotional impact living with a condition can also have, can help to shape an effective patient engagement strategy.
How can patient empathy help in clinical trials
- Considers potentially unknown side-effects/challenges for the participant
Most illnesses and associated treatments have an apparent list of side effects that companies will be extremely familiar with. However, there may be an underlying impact from ongoing medication or general living with a condition that isn’t quite as obvious. Participants who have undertaken our A Life in a Day Clinical Trial experience have learned new perspectives of looking at patients’ lives, and as such have made tangible changes within their roles. Examples include creating flexible schedule times for fatigued patients, extra resources for support and minimising the burden that clinical trials can impose.
- Provides reassurance and support
The psychological impact of having an illness is far more complex and personal than many of us would know. By being able to empathise with a patient and how they feel in regard to attending a clinical trial, it can provide different methods and resources to reassure them throughout and minimise any further stress they may face.
- Builds trust and enhances retention
Although clinical trial environments can be run-of-the-mill for those involved with them daily, for patients these can be daunting situations. If patients feel heard and understood by healthcare professionals it can build a level of trust which supports the clinical trial process and enhances patient retention for future studies.
By factoring in the emotional and social challenges of a patient alongside their physical symptoms, clinical trial providers can create a process which is more tailored and aligned to what the patient needs. In turn this can encourage patient uptake in the early design stages of the clinical trial, maximise results during the trial itself and increase retention of those who felt understood enough to come back again.
If you are keen to learn more about the A Life in a Day Clinical Trial experience, please get in touch.
It really helps you to understand the impact a clinical trial has on the daily life of our patients. Going forward I will be thinking about how the regulatory strategy can help patients to have an earlier access to the medicine."