By: Kyle Hogan, Executive Vice President, Strategy, Datacubed Health
The COVID-19 pandemic created tectonic shifts across industries – including clinical trials. The inability to rely on traditional face-to-face interactions and paper-based processes propelled trials into the digital age. Industry thought leaders seem to agree that there’s no going back. (The sentiment even has a hashtag: #NoGoingBack.) And yet, I believe that this rallying cry misses more critical opportunities. It’s not just about refusing to return to old ways of operating or insisting that we be “better” at doing the same things.
This is our chance to frame the future.
How do we want to transform electronic clinical outcome assessments (eCOAs) – including electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePROs) – to drive better patient engagement in the short, mid and long term? There are many possible answers to that question. For the purposes of this post, I’d like to focus on three opportunities to frame the future.
Let’s think far beyond virtual visits.
The pandemic necessitated a massive shift from in-person to virtual visits. Now that we’ve proven this approach is possible – for patients and for sites – how could we extend the model even more? Imagine being able to integrate eConsent into your trial app, eliminating the need for a patient to visit a site for that process. Imagine patients being able to schedule (and reschedule, if necessary) and launch virtual visits using that same app. Even better, imagine the ability to automate collection of data generated by patients’ wearables and other sensors. These ideas are not so far out of reach. We just need the courage to press ahead and bring them to reality.
Let’s make BYOD the SOP for all trials.
Even in 2021, many sponsors are still provisioning trial-specific mobile devices for subjects. Put yourself in a patient’s shoes. You already have a personal smartphone that you use for a wide variety of purposes. If you leave home without that device, you’re likely to go back and retrieve it. Now you’re expected to carry a second device that has just one purpose: entering information into an app for your trial. If you leave home without that device, you’re much more likely to continue with your day – which could impact data completeness and accuracy.
By adopting a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model, you can improve patient engagement and experience – along with the quality of data each patient is providing. The same is true of investigative sites. Empowering them to use their own devices – and arming them with modern, intuitive apps – can reshape their experience, as well.
Let’s unleash the full potential of gamification.
Too many people still think of gamification as nothing more than badges and leaderboards. In reality, gamification is the art and science of making an app so intuitive that your patients are drawn to use it. The best apps use gamification to make learning an organic (and fun!) process. These apps provide entirely new ways of capturing eCOA and ePRO data – eliminating points of friction for patients and keeping them engaged and compliant throughout the length of a trial. By applying proven principles of behavioral science, we can transform technology from utilitarian tools into experiences patients don’t want to miss.
As we frame the future of eCOA, let’s aim not just for a better experience but also for greater adherence and compliance. Let’s improve how we engage patients and sites and collect data from them. Most of all, let’s do a lot more than #NoGoingBack; let’s move forward with a courageous vision for the future.