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Your clinical trial participants are precious, so treat them as such

By Su Smith

Taking part in a clinical trial is a selfless act towards improving healthcare, right?

Or it’s a person’s last resort when licensed therapies are unavailable or ineffective. This last year with COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated that large numbers of healthy people can be recruited to clinical trials incredibly quickly. What motivated them? A selfless act or a desire to help the world ‘get back to normal’?

The reasons are always going to be multifactorial and the truth is we don’t know… unless we ask the right questions in the right way. What we do know is that treating patients as partners in clinical trials seems like an obvious principle and it’s something that pharma companies trot out along with their other patient-centric values.

There are clear financial reasons for this. The average cost to recruit a patient into a trial is $6,500, yet around 30% of patients drop out. When this happens, the average cost to recruit a new patient is $19,500.

Can the industry afford to take this financial hit? But it goes beyond the financial. Patients are increasingly well-informed and active in their disease management – particularly those who are likely to persist in a clinical trial.

So treating patients as partners is not just a retention or financial imperative; it is a core principle that should inform all stages from clinical trial design, site staff briefing, patient support and leveraging the trial outcomes in the marketing strategy. Your clinical trial participants are precious, so treat them as such. Many study participants cite ‘additional burden of taking part in a trial’ as a key reason for dropping out.

Additional burden may be financial, intellectual or practical. So how do we at Origins help to reduce the burden of clinical trials for patients? Here are four key factors that drive our approach.

1. Understanding the authentic patient experience: we have developed research techniques that uncover patient intelligence that directly helps reduce the burden to patients. We use immersive, emotive and transformative approaches to really understand the authentic patient experience.

It is only through using intelligence to understand what it is like to live with a particular condition that you can build or adapt trial protocols to fit around the needs of patients and not always require patients to adapt their lives to the trial.

In this way, participating in a clinical trial becomes more attractive and the additional financial burden of replacing those who drop out is addressed. These insights can also identify secondary symptom-related outcomes to be measured as part of the trial.

2. Understanding the language that patients use: Origins does not use proxy measures for patient experience or curated responses; while healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patient advocacy groups can provide insight, this is no substitute for hearing from the true patient population.

Understanding the language used by patients to describe the symptoms they experience and condition they live with enables trial materials to be written in a way that makes sense to the patient population you’re working with. It will help you train site staff so that they can better communicate what participation entails – complicated information can be a key source of burden to patients in clinical trials.

3. Understanding the impact of your medicine on patients’ lives: the FDA no longer requires a drug to solely demonstrate clinical improvements – it also requires you to demonstrate how it has improved a patient’s life.

By understanding the authentic patient experience early in your clinical development plan you will more effectively be able to demonstrate the impact your drug can have on the lives of real patients.

4. Understanding how to connect insight to action: according to a 2019 Forrester survey, 74% of firms say they want to be ‘insight-driven’, but only 29% are successful at connecting insight to action.

That’s why Origins provides actionable patient intelligence that redefines your success. We go beyond uncovering interesting information and focus on delivering actionable insights. Could understanding the authentic patient experience improve your clinical trial recruitment and retention?

To find out more about how Origins can redefine your success through connecting you with the authentic patient experience, visit or contact Su Smith

Su Smith is Director at Origins Insights

In association with

16th June 2021

From: Research



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