Four years ago, my colleague and management team member here at BBK Worldwide, Rob Laurens, wrote the blog post, “How a Poster Enrolled my Clinical Trial.” I re-read it recently and thought it would be fun to look back on this article to see how our ideas about patient engagement and enrollment may have changed over the last few years thanks to technology and the rise of mHealth.
Rob introduces his post by saying: “I’ll cut right to the chase here: posters don’t enroll clinical trials, people do – most specifically, study coordinators, investigators, nurses, and all the staff at your study sites. But, providing these very busy healthcare professionals with top-notch patient recruitment materials has a major impact on their ability to effectively and efficiently identify, approach, consent, and retain your study participants.” This idea is as true today as it was when Rob first wrote it and is especially true as we consider mHealth and its impact clinical research. Here are a few tips to consider for developing a successful patient engagement program.
It’s all about balance.
While many companies are developing new and exciting mHealth technology, it’s important to stay aware of its primary purpose: to help people manage their health. mHealth is just one of many tools that serve to educate and engage a diverse patient population. Some people may prefer a digital approach to health management, taking advantage of apps or wearables, while other patients may prefer to consult a brochure. Don’t underestimate the diversity of your patient population; their engagement preferences will not look the same. Posters don’t enroll patients, and neither do apps, but as patient engagement evolves, a well-rounded retention campaign will likely feature both.
“Do you have an app for this condition?”
Having a custom and specialized app for every condition and trial may be the goal, but how do we get there? How can we build an app that will work not only for my current study, but for many studies to come? Developing digital technology for clinical research is costly, so it is important to maximize these efforts as much as possible. When BBK designed My Clinical Study Buddy, it was with the understanding that no two protocols will ever be the same, and that patient populations within a single condition can be very diverse. Customization and adaptation are essential to making sustainable technology for the long haul.
ROI - Return on Impact
With patient centricity quickly becoming a fixture in clinical research, patients have far greater access to information about the studies in which they participate, and an overall greater sense of understanding about the clinical research process. The mindset within the clinical trial industry is shifting to include patients as key stakeholders in the clinical research process. As such, it is critical that we continue to empower patients by keeping them engaged and informed throughout study participation, from screening through the end of the study. With expanding mobile and digital capabilities, we have an opportunity to connect communities of patients and researchers, and provide valuable study information, like never before. Patients give so much of their time and energy to trial participation, and as key stakeholders in every clinical trial, they deserve easy access to study-related information and resources.
The mHealth industry is expected to reach nearly $60 billion by 2020 – and we’re still in the early days of deployment and implementation. No doubt, it’s an exciting time and our client feedback is exceeding our very high expectations.
If you’re at the 2016 DIA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia next month, we’d love to see you. Stop by our booth #1610 or join our mHealth Innovation Theatre talk on Monday afternoon. And as always, join the discussion on Twitter at @bbkworldwide.