As the industry continues embracing the idea of the decentralized clinical trial (DCT), my thoughts always return to a breast-cancer survivor I heard speak at a conference several years ago. While I don’t remember her name or the trial she had participated in, I was struck by the fact that she had joined the trial not to alleviate symptoms or enhance her quality of life.
She enrolled in the trial to save her life.
During her talk, she described the time and money involved in planning and making several trips a month to the investigative site. She explained that when the site was running behind schedule, she would sometimes be forced to extend her out-of-town stay. That’s an inconvenience for anyone; for a person in her position, it also meant precious time lost with loved ones.
I admit that this high frequency of site visits may have been essential to her trial. Even so, her experiences underscore the immense burden patients bear – and the opportunity for the DCT model to help alleviate it. Years later I still recall her talk vividly! It’s had an immense impact on my personal desire to reduce the amount of burden we place on patients to participate in trials. Even today, it still informs the questions I ask when looking at the solutions we deploy.
Before I go on, I want to reiterate that when I talk about the decentralized trial, I’m not referring to a “site-less” trial. To my mind, sites are critical to quality patient care. Rather, the DCT approach I’m referencing would likely best be described as the ‘hybrid DCT,’ with an aim to dispersing resources to help streamline trial enrollment; reduce the number of required site visits (and associated travel); and improve the ease and accuracy of data capture. Combined, all of this ultimately reduces the burden on patients and gives site staff more time to focus on patient care.
At Datacubed Health, we’ve built a unique digital platform to support DCTs. Using our Linkt mobile app and infrastructure, below are just some of the ways you can significantly ease the patient burden:
- Let patients use their own Android or iOS device. No separate phone or tablet to carry; everything the patient needs is accessible from his or her own smartphone.
- Do virtual visits right from the app. Minimize the number of times patients must disrupt their day-to-day lives for site visits. Scheduling, rescheduling and conducting virtual visits is fast and intuitive.
- Make it FUN for patients. Datacubed Health has infused the principles of behavioral economics and motivational design into the Linkt app. The app incorporates short-term, mid-term and long-term rewards –delivering a digital experience patients want to engage with.
- Simplify enrollment and eConsent. With Linkt, a patient can enroll in your trial without visiting a site in person.
- Deliver all these capabilities via a single app. Patients don’t need to download multiple apps and remember numerous logins. Linkt does it all in the palm of a patient’s hand.
Everything we do at Datacubed Health is aimed at making it easier for trial participants to be better patients and to stay compliant with the protocol, adherent with their medication, and active throughout the entire study.
By reshaping the patient experience, clinical trials can better recruit and retain patients across ages, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic status and levels of educational attainment. In fact, as an industry, we should be leveraging DCTs to increase health equity. That’s a topic I look forward to discussing in an upcoming post.