The pharmaceutical industry has long struggled with truly connecting with their customers. In the context of clinical trials, this challenge has resulted in slow recruitment and high dropout rates, contributing to additional delays and increased cost to drug development and drug approvals. The industry has recently started to address these challenges and in doing so, has started to focus more squarely on the needs of the patients they involve in trials.
Here are a few of the questions our clients are seeking to answer: What are patients looking to get out of a clinical trial? How do you tailor the specific needs of people with certain diseases as you design a protocol? How do you best reach certain patient populations? How do you make the clinical trial experience as positive as possible, from awareness of a trial through completion?
In an effort to foster a dialogue among industry experts on their approaches to focusing on the patient, we organized and led a speaker panel on September 29th at the Johnson & Johnson Corporate Headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ entitled “Transform the Experience: Focus on the Patient.” And the speakers certainly delivered!
As moderator of the event, I was keen to uncover panelists’ insights on success factors for improving the patients’ clinical trial experience for the benefit of the audience of pharma professionals. From the rich conversations among the panelists, I took away several points:
- Clinical teams need to be accountable for the patient experience they’re creating.
- To understand patients’ needs, clinical teams need to seek the guidance of advocacy groups to design a trial around the particular physical, mental and other abilities and limitations of a particular patient-disease population.
- Rare diseases – which have few patients to recruit for trials – require deep understanding of the patient and can sometimes serve as a model for trials for more prevalent diseases. For a pharma company to be truly patient-centric, they may need to go to great lengths to ensure patient compliance.
- In order to reach certain unique patient populations, especially in rare diseases, clinical teams need to understand the patient and the best way to reach them.
- Patients want one place to turn to for access to the right trials for their needs.
- Another great takeaway was that clinical trials need to address the needs of not only the patient, but the caregiver too, as that person often serves as the decision maker, the driver, and the advisor.
- Patients seeking experimental drugs that are in development – so-called expanded access or compassionate use compounds – reflect many of these needs, but with heightened urgency, as they are experiencing serious or life-threatening conditions.
Afterwards, audience members told me they were very engaged, “on the edge of their seats,” and truly enjoyed hearing the speakers provide open, insightful guidance on how to address the patient’s needs and create a more targeted, tailored, and positive experience for the clinical trial participants
The bottom line: A strong focus on people and communities, and deep understanding of customer and patient experience are critical to significantly improving the patient experience!
For more patient-centricity perspective, read our recent POV, Improve Clinical Trial Outcomes by Boosting Customer Experience.