Blog 6 minute read

Innovations in ePRO/eCOA and Patient Engagement: What’s Your ‘Why’?

What does it mean to innovate on purpose and with purpose? Datacubed Health infuses our mission –to advance access to healthcare for everyone, everywhere –into everything we do. Our ideal partners share this commitment to the “why” of clinical trial innovation to, above all, achieve better patient outcomes and more rewarding clinical experiences.

Have you ever participated in a clinical trial as a patient or an investigator? Chances are, the experience was not on par with what you would expect as a commercial enterprise customer, like a retailer or financial services provider. In fact, there may have been aspects of your experience that were downright unpleasant.

It doesn’t have to be that way – not for patients and not for the clinicians and sites that support them. It is possible to change how we run clinical studies so that the experience is better for everyone. A better experience leads to stronger patient engagement, higher compliance and retention rates; more complete and accurate data collection; greater efficiency for sites, and, thus, the ability to bring novel treatments to market more quickly and effectively. 

Tackling the challenges of clinical trial experiences

Datacubed Health uniquely combines three resources: 

  • Industry experience
  • Behavioral science expertise
  • Modern technology

We harness these resources not to produce a prettier interface on a computer but rather to orchestrate them within a single platform for optimal patient experiences and results. 

Datacubed Health’s platform builds on the momentum that started during the pandemic. The pandemic demonstrated the potential to increase the adoption of decentralized clinical trials. It also exposed the need to move beyond disjointed legacy models that can make trials difficult for all stakeholders. 

Sites need a single experience that incorporates a broad ecosystem of tools; patients need a single tool that fits seamlessly into their daily lives. These two needs are not mutually exclusive. A convenient, intuitive solution for patient data collection and patient engagement also drives simplicity, efficiency, and accuracy for sites and sponsors.

The Innovation ‘why’ for patients

The first thing to remember in treating patients as partners is that it requires a commitment to understanding their individual goals and circumstances and how you can address some of those needs with an effective eCOA/ePRO solution

It is important to realize in any clinical trial, patients are not a monolith. Invest time and effort to understand the various segments within a population. Don’t follow the “build it and they will come” philosophy. Instead, build motivation so patients are fully engaged in addressing their trial tasks and activities. Build trust with a reliable and relevant tool that adds value to their day-to-day lives.

How can you do that? Firstly, acknowledge that patients are people – often people living with a great deal of stress. In addition to the disease or condition they may be managing, they may be juggling family, finances, work, and myriad other responsibilities. As much as possible, clinical trials need to accommodate patients – not the other way around. 

One of the most fundamental strategies Datacubed Health employs is using motivational cycles for short-term, mid-term, and long-term activities. These activities typically include completing questionnaires, attending visits, taking medications, asking questions when needed, and reporting events critical for safety. Every time patients complete a task, they get a variable reinforcer that generates a dopamine response. Over time, these responses build up. For mid-term and long-term activities, reinforcers should offer proportionately larger rewards. These motivational cycles help create a clinical trial experience that patients feel driven, not forced, to engage with.

For many patients, the standard motivational cycles are effective. But not all patients are the same. We take innovative approaches to understand better how patients engage: How much time are they spending in the app? Are they keeping up with engagement tasks? Finally, what questions can we ask patients to learn more about their experiences? These insights can help revise the messaging and cadence of communications to meet each patient’s needs better. 

The innovation ‘why’ for sites

Equally important are Sites; they also deserve innovation with purpose. Nurses and other clinicians who support these patients are often overburdened by paperwork, reports, and tech tools related to multiple clinical trials. That leaves less time to spend with patients.

These clinicians may be leery of ePRO/eCOA solutions; will these simply compound their administrative burden? With a well-designed clinical trial experience, these solutions can be game-changers for sites. As can be seen with patients, site coordinators are not a monolith. They also need more nuanced support (for example, for training, some may want a hard-copy manual; some may want the ability to pull up a video online; others may want in-person instruction). Innovative ePRO and eCOA solutions can accommodate these kinds of diverse preferences.

Given these points, technology should be considered. Consent. Telehealth. Adherence and compliance. Patient education. Electronic questionnaires. Automated reporting of potential adverse events. Integrated sensors and other connected health devices. These can – and should – be among the resources contained within a single experience for patients and sites. 

The innovation ‘why’ for sponsors and CROs

Clinical trial sponsors and their CRO partners need fast, reliable access to insights about their studies. For this reason, Datacubed Health focuses innovation on streamlining access to those insights. We design dashboards to separate the signal from the noise. 

By highlighting protocol-specific metrics, the dashboard helps sponsors and CROs assess the progress of the trial. Where are there issues to address? What are the potential obstacles? Furthermore, the dashboard even drills down to the individual patient level, surfacing opportunities to finetune engagement for higher compliance and retention. 

Keeping Your Eyes on the ‘Whys’

As you explore opportunities to transform eCOA/ePRO and patient engagement, stay focused on what matters to all stakeholders:

  • What innovations can help patients consistently take action and stay motivated and engaged throughout a clinical trial? What innovations can help alleviate the administrative burden for sites – freeing up more time to focus on patient care?
  • What innovations can help sponsors and CROs quickly visualize a trial’s progress – and potential issues – to increase the likelihood of success?

In conclusion, it comes down to innovation with purpose – creating experiences for all stakeholders that are simpler, easier, and more rewarding.

If you’re interested in learning more about our ‘whys’ on innovation in eCOA/ePRO and patient engagement, feel free to contact us for more information.