Patient engagement is a multifaceted term that has no standard definition. As an industry, we’ve agreed on its importance, yet still have difficulties settling on how to define it. Instead, experts have suggested four key factors in patient engagement: willingness to be involved, willingness to take a proactive approach, technology adaptability, and availability of psychosocial support.
Electronic data capture (EDC) software used for conducting clinical research today should be equipped with the proper tools to make patient engagement more achievable. Ideally, this should include a mobile app to cater to the estimated 500 million smartphone users worldwide. Here are a few best practices to implement using TrialKit, a native application for clinical trial data management, that lead to positive patient engagement.
1.) Convenient clinical trial participation
A contributing factor to study dropout is the inconvenience of frequent site visits. Many patients may find it difficult to attend all required visits due to shortage of time, lack of transportation, or distance from the site. To answer this problem, TrialKit has made it simpler for patients to participate in clinical trials. Electronic patient reported outcomes (ePRO) and the latest mobile technologies allow patients to submit forms and surveys from the comfort of their homes, from their places of work, and beyond.
TrialKit takes it a step further than traditional data collection. The app’s ability to connect to wearables, such as Apple Watch, has strong implications for virtual clinical trials. For instance, patients can use their smartwatch to measure heart rate, range of motion and other metrics, and TrialKit will send the results directly to the research team.
By completing some tasks remotely, patients are spared trips to the research site – not to mention feeling more involved in the trial. For researchers, adding activity tests or measurements to a study in TrialKit is as easy as dragging the appropriate field into an electronic case report form (eCRF) during the study build.
2.) User-friendly eCRF design
Throughout the clinical trial design process, it’s important for researchers to be mindful of the formatting and wording applied to eCRFs. Simple, concise form design with clearly worded questions yields a more enjoyable experience for patients. In turn, this increases the likelihood that they will adhere to the trial’s protocol.
The eCRF building tool in TrialKit offers tremendous flexibility for research teams to create forms and surveys that are conducive to their studies. Its drag-and-drop interface lets users choose from a variety of fields and formatting options to build forms that can be completed with ease by trial participants.
Once patients submit an eCRF, they become available to researchers in real time in TrialKit’s database. For the patient, this alleviates the burden of keeping paper forms until the next scheduled visit. For the research team, it means significantly less manual data entry.
3.) Clear and consistent communication
Direct, two-way communication is another important best practice in facilitating patient engagement. This is particularly essential in remote or hybrid clinical trials, which involve fewer face-to-face interactions. Keeping patients informed and up-to-date throughout the trial may help keep retention rates high. Additionally, providing them with a medium to reach the research team for any questions, comments, and concerns.
In order to accomplish this level of communication, TrialKit offers conditional notifications that can be triggered to go out to patients or site personnel based on a user-defined event, such as how a certain question is answered. The system deploys email and/or push notifications, which are configured during the study design process. TrialKit also allows researchers manually generate notifications for the site to communicate directly with a patient through the app.
TrialKit will soon have a robust patient portal to further enhance the app’s user experience for patients. Driven by metrics tracked by the system, the patient portal will give participants a comprehensive overview of their progress in the trial. The display will include information such as upcoming tasks and scheduled visits, number of completed eCRFs, trial progress, and more.
4.) Efficient payments to patients
In some clinical trials, patients are paid for their participation. Compensation can be based on a variety of elements, such as the amount of site visits, the procedure(s) involved, reaching certain trial milestones, or forms that have been completed. Regardless of which metric determines compensation, it’s challenging for research teams to manually keep track of payments to multiple participants. Fair and timely compensation is imperative for positive patient engagement – especially if participants are payment-motivated or depend on it to offset time and travel.
Utilizing TrialKit’s payment tracking feature ensures no payments slip through the cracks. When building a study in the app, researchers can define the measures that drive payments. The tracking feature also prevents against making duplicate payments, as it keeps a log of payments that have already been processed.
Improving patient engagement long-term will require concerted efforts from all in the healthcare industry. However, making clinical trial participation a more enjoyable process is one excellent place to start. TrialKit was developed to realize this goal, as well as ease the burden on clinical research professionals. To see any of these patient centric features in action, schedule a demonstration of TrialKit today.