Clinical trials that reach out to patients in their own homes and local doctors’ offices are expected to see a boost in enrollment.
As clinical trials adopt new technology, they have the chance to expand their reach to patients who might not otherwise participate. These disruptive trial strategies include virtual or decentralized trials that can be conducted partially or entirely at the patient’s home or local doctor’s office.
According to Jake LaPorte, global head of digital development at Novartis, this more flexible method “aims to decrease the burden of clinical trial participation on patients and trial centers.” Decentralized trials run with the help of digital technology allow testing to cater more holistically to patients’ needs as well as gather higher quality data.
Embracing New Methods
Technology has prompted CROs and sponsors to reimagine strategies for both recruitment and patient engagement. This shift is particularly evident in decentralized trials, which are still in the early stage of widespread adoption.
By bringing testing closer to patients, clinical trials are becoming more convenient and democratic. They can reach patients across geographic barriers who would not otherwise have access to research sites, thus creating a larger and more accurate data pool. Decentralized trials also offer new opportunities to reach underserved and underrepresented populations like minorities and the elderly. As these demographics become more active in clinical trials, they will likely have increased access to potentially life-saving medications.
The use of emerging technology and innovative trial designs offers a unique opportunity for trials to speed up the research process, as shown by Novartis’s early stage studies. It also promises to bring new treatments to patients in a way that minimally disrupts their lives.
Opportunities for Recruitment
Clinical trials have long struggled to recruit patients, with reports showing that 85% of trials fail to retain enough patients to execute their study. However, digital technology and a new approach to testing promise to address many of these recruitment concerns.
With decentralized or virtual trials, patients don’t have to travel for extensive site visits, instead completing testing at their local physician’s office or in their own home. This increasing emphasis on convenience can help CROs and sponsors recruit a wide variety of patients across the country. It can also provide patients with easy access to resources and information, encouraging them to take ownership of their own care and complete research requirements in their own time.
The Role of Digital Marketing
With the rise of decentralized or virtual trials, it makes sense that marketing techniques should evolve as well. That’s why many successful trials are pivoting to reach out to potential patients on the platforms they use every day.
Digital marketing techniques like Facebook ads and Google AdWords are especially effective tools that can help clinical trials meet their enrollment requirements. With its precise, highly customizable targeting capabilities, Facebook ads can help trials reach patient populations for nearly any demographic or disease. The strength of AdWords, on the other hand, lies in pinpointing users who are actively searching for treatment options.
Both decentralized trial models and digital marketing are signs of the larger trend toward patient centricity in clinical research. By bringing trials to the patient instead of the other way around, trials can remove obstacles to patient enrollment and retention.