Blog 2 minute read

eCOA/ePRO: Why patients deserve even more progress

If you’re like me and you’ve been working in the clinical trials industry for a long time, you know we’ve come a long way from the days of fully paper-based studies. The shift from reporting on paper to reporting electronically has been happening for years, however, the transition hasn’t always been elegant (cue the days of Palm Pilots and tele-cradles).

More recently, the pandemic has played a role in accelerating the shift to eCOA/ePRO. Today, 68% of studies that collect patient-reported outcomes are using electronic solutions. That percentage is expected to reach 84% over the next two years.[1]

Yet despite this progress, many of the tools used for eCOA/ePRO are stuck in the past. They’re more like digitized paperwork than engaging digital experiences. Fortunately, I see two forces converging to radically transform the tools the industry relies on.

The first force is growing momentum about the importance of patient engagement. Better engagement increases retention, improves the quality of data captured, and, ultimately, helps improve health outcomes for patients. For better engagement, we need better eCOA/ePRO tools.

The second force is the continued ubiquity of smartphones. Mobile devices have become indispensable in supporting how we shop, bank, travel, and stay connected with each other. It’s time for smartphones to play an equally seamless and invaluable role in clinical trials.

The intersection of these forces represents an immense opportunity to unleash the full potential of engaging digital experiences. To keep a clinical trial at the patient’s fingertips – making it far easier to handle everything from e-consent to virtual visits and safety monitoring. To make the trial more transparent for patients, so they can feel energized about actively contributing to the study.

But these kinds of digital experiences don’t just “happen”; they must be well designed. Tools need to be architected in a way that patients want to use them. These tools must make it easier to participate in a trial – for example, by reducing the need for in-person visits, increasing the ease of instrument completion, and streamlining ongoing communications and monitoring.

A modern eCOA/ePRO platform can deliver the experiences that patients deserve – starting today.

Of course, patients aren’t the only trial stakeholders who deserve better experiences. Sites do, too, but more on that in my next post.


[1] eCOA/ePRO Benchmarking & Market Dynamics (4th Ed.)

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