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Decentralized Clinical Trial Tools that Increase Patient Retention

Cassidi Williams

Sponsors and CROs alike understand the potential to bring trials out of the clinic and to geographically dispersed patients for better recruitment, retention and trial success. Decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) are becoming one of the most dynamic ways to expand clinical research opportunities and health outcomes globally. Benefits of decentralized and hybrid designs are numerous, but chief among them is the impact on study participation. An obstacle to trial success across the industry has been retention of diverse and qualified patients. According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information study retention rates were 89% for the decentralized model and only 60% for the traditional model. DCTs allow sponsors to create trial experiences that are less burdensome and more engaging, both of which have the ability to reduce dropout rates.

Patient location is no longer a factor

Notably, DCTs remove the most common hurdle for patient retention - location. Even before the recent increase in patients’ appetite for social distancing, getting to a clinical trial site was a challenge for trial participants. Whether it is schedules, transportation, or fear, in-clinic trial visits are where many potential patients are “lost” in the retention process. Considering that 70% of potential clinical trial patients live more than two hours from a site, decentralized and hybrid models provide patient-centric delivery while decreasing the barriers to trial continuity.

Trial success is a “click” away

Retention is further enhanced by the immediate “at a click” connection participants can have with trial staff; studies that leverage this benefit can have a significant impact on retention goals. DCTs facilitate two-way communication that both ensure the patient is engaged and that trial staff has early indications of anything that might need adjustment to retain participants. Decentralized and hybrid studies are also better at engaging study participants early in the process, more deeply connecting them to the study, and minimizing opportunities for drop-out. These models increase opportunities for participant communication and connection, making it far more likely they’ll adhere to trial protocols. Sponsors and CROs should also consider adding eQualification or eConsent to the onboarding process. These tools have the one-two punch of offering a voice to study participants while enhancing overall success metrics.

Wearable technology with reliable clinical trial data

The inherent role of wearable technology further aids clinical study participant retention. Easy-to-use solutions that enable remote trial measurement can reduce the burden on patients to self-report. Wearables seamlessly gather information into a single source of reliable data for researchers while integrating it into patients’ everyday lives. These innovations are transforming what was historically a cumbersome clinical trial process into a trustworthy, responsive, hassle-free and convenient health care experience for patients, thus encouraging them to stay in the trial through its conclusion. Further, features like telehealth empower direct engagement at participants’ homes with the added benefit that it often increases health and safety monitoring.

The right DCT trial management systems deploy a simple step-by-step process that allows sponsors and CROs to easily configure a participant-facing website to meet onboarding and retention needs. These automated, web-based solutions empower participants to understand every step of the study allowing less room for confusion and, its common result, drop-out. Contact THREAD to learn how to design your DCT for the best retention results and trial success.

Dave Wilson

Senior Director, Delivery

Dave brings 35+ years of leadership experience in Biopharma companies and CROs with a results-driven focus on implementation of technology in global drug development. For the past 5+ years, with a focus on patient experience & engagement, leading teams implementing solutions in decentralized clinical trials.