Myths are stubborn, persistent, and can easily put your well-intentioned clinical trial enrollment efforts at risk. But spotting and correcting them can be a challenge. To help the industry discern fact from fiction, we assembled our own MythBusters team, dedicated to confirming or busting common clinical trial myths. Empowered with data from our industry-wide surveys of patients, physicians, and clinical trial sponsors, the team identifies pervasive myths, puts them to the test, and arrives at a verdict.
So far, the team has busted three myths surrounding physician referrals, health apps, and patient engagement. Individually, each debunked myth provides valuable insight to empower clinical trial sponsors in strategizing their recruitment and engagement efforts. Collectively, they show the importance of questioning tried and true practices and reveal missed opportunities to engage patients and physicians in the clinical trial process. These findings can be leveraged to enhance clinical trial enrollment and engagement success. (Detailed survey results are available to download.)
Myth 1: Doctors are unwilling to refer their patients to other specialists for access to clinical trials
More than half of the study sponsors surveyed for this myth believe that doctors are unwilling to refer their patients to other specialists for access to clinical trials. Of these, 61% believe it's because they fear losing their patient. It's a stubborn myth, perpetuated in part by those who believe that physicians fear losing their patients to the care of the investigator following the conclusion of a study.
But the reality speaks otherwise. Of the physicians surveyed, 69% said they had in fact referred a patient. And those not willing to refer said that 68% of the time it's because they have questions about the protocol. With this new evidence, sponsors should feel empowered to take more dramatic measures to engage the physician community as partners in the clinical trial enrollment process.
Myth 2: New app technology inherently equals improved clinical trial participation
There's a belief that new study apps and innovative technologies will revolutionize the patient experience – improving outcomes, medication adherence, and engagement in the process. Many credit technology alone, believing it drives patient engagement. To challenge this myth, the team pits technology against content, asking patients to share their experiences using health management apps.
Of the 284 patients surveyed, 56% indicated they use health management apps. When asked to indicate what keeps them interested in using their health management apps, a staggering 68% indicated that the content is updated regularly; 65% indicated the content is relevant and personalized; 59% indicated the app is visually appealing; and 41% indicated the app provides important health reminders.
"Despite all the excitement around new technologies, and the convenience they offer, patients still want relevant content," says Aaron Fleishman, Director, Market Development, BBK Worldwide. "In the process of busting this myth, we realized that content is extremely important in driving regular engagement and interaction with an app – content that is both educational and personal."
The data also revealed that despite all the buzz around new health apps, 44% of patients are not using them, primarily because they never thought of using an app to help manage their health. The findings reveal an opportunity to increase the number of people benefiting from health engagement apps through awareness and education.
Myth 3: Patient engagement cannot properly be measured in a way that illustrates a return on investment (ROI)
Many argue there is no definitive way to measure patient engagement, finding it hard to justify an investment. By going directly to clinical trial sponsors, the MythBusters team was quickly able to dispel this belief. Of the 453 sponsors surveyed, 44% cited a decrease in withdrawal rates most closely aligning with effective study engagement, followed by 28% citing qualitative data demonstrating patient satisfaction. The team turned to patient responses to measure the return on investment.
Patients who had a positive experience while participating in a clinical trial cited programs like travel and reimbursement as positive reasons for why they stayed in the study. Patients who did not have a positive experience participating in a clinical trial cited the fact that they did not have access to programs like travel and reimbursement, and close to 40% of those patients dropped out of the study. The results show the positive impact engagement tools have on the patient experience, and they provide study sponsors with the confidence they need to readily embrace them.
For a closer look at the data that was used to bust these myths, and key insights to leverage for clinical trial enrollment success, please download our MythBusters infographics.