Written By: Paul Richardson
When running any clinical trial there are many concerns, engagement being at the top of the list. While performing my due diligence for this topic, I read several articles and one book in particular regarding engagement. An attempt to account for and answer all “Top Engagement Concerns” for Clinical Research Organizations (CROs) will be difficult. This will be the first step in our discussion to answer these concerns.
Engagement. What is it? Do we understand it? How are we going to do it? Where are we going to implement? How are we going to incorporate this into our offering and/or practice? Many CROs are asking these questions and others. If you sat down and tried to map what Engagement looks like you might come up with a marketing strategy, a system of landing pages, some wire frames, or possibly a series of “if, then…” statements. To articulate and fully grasp what engagement is, and what it will do (or hope it will do) is something entirely different.
Each clinical study is unique like a snowflake. Within the study protocol there are many items to account for; purpose, background, objectives, study design, data analysis, endpoints, considerations, benefits, risks, duration, procedures, etc. Then of course your first view into the potential participants, the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Just as each clinical trial is unique, each individual participating in your study is unique. How you choose to interact with these individuals can determine your success or failure.
While attending HIMSS 2015 this past April in Chicago I had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with a group led by Mr. Brian Eastwood, Senior Editor at Fierce Health Payer. The conversation was centered on “Patient Empowerment.” The more I discussed with Brian and others, I believe we all came to the same conclusion. To be successful at engagement during the course of a trial we must empower our patients.
A simple solution: empower the participant. Problem solved? Not entirely. Throughout the course of your study (from recruitment to post study follow up) friction points exist between you, the CRO, and the participant. Those friction points must be removed for you to successfully engage these individuals. To remove these friction points, it can be as simple as holding the participant’s hand as you are guiding them step by step throughout their involvement in your clinical study. By holding the participant’s hand you are making a conscious effort to make your study patient centric. Yet, how do you hold the participant’s hand? You’re not going to see them every day.
With the advances in enterprise mobile technology, such as Clinical Reach, you now have the ability to reach a more specific and diversified population. Components such as Language Localization give you the ability to speak with participants across the globe in their native language. Adverse Event (AE) and Patient Reported Outcome (PRO) modules enhance your ability to connect with participants in real-time throughout the course of a trial. Captured patient behavior and the use of customized messaging can deepen your (the CRO’s) connection with the participant. You may not be physically next to your participants, but you have the opportunity to be in their hands on a daily basis. With enterprise mobile technology like Clinical Reach you gain the ability to ENNOBLE your participants. By doing so, you deepen trust with patients, being a part of their daily life. You are using the patient’s mobile device as an extension of your hand into theirs.
Marketing great Seth Godin wrote in his book, The Icarus Deception, “What matters now is trust, permission, remark-ability, leadership, stories that spread and humanity: connection, compassion and humility.” (I need to thank John Reites of Quintiles for suggesting this book.) This is the Engagement we are looking for with our patients, the emotional attachment that we are trying to create. Taking into account our goal as a CRO, utilization of engagement and keeping in mind Mr. Godin’s statement that true engagement is ENNOBLING our patients and participants.
If you want true engagement, ENNOBLE PATIENTS.