Consistently in clinical research there has been an ever-present need for more clinical trial participants. Today, over 58 million people are needed to fill open clinical trials, sources estimate 2 million people are participating annually.
Clearly, there is more work to be done, but total reinvention isn’t the only solution to achieve increased enrollment. It may simply be a matter of looking at the challenge differently and considering the patient’s perspective more carefully. When we begin to understand what matters to patients, we can often identify the connection point between something of importance and clinical trial participation. A connection that should not be overlooked. When something the patient cares about connects to trial participation, the patient’s decision to participate is fortified, which in turn enhances their experience and strengthens their ability to influence friends, family, and community. By connecting to the trial experience in ways that matter, patients become the catalysts, or change agents, for clinical research, thus normalizing it in their communities and social circles. The impact, reach and scale of their effect can far outweigh the mechanical and transactional efforts prominent today.
As clinical research professionals, we are deeply committed to the safety of patients at all times. But are we doing enough to provide our patients with more than just a standard clinical trial transaction? How does the experience of participation relate to the things they believe matter? In order for the broader public to be better informed and aware of clinical research, we must find ways to communicate with them in the context of issues and causes that they support. Sharing a common language or topic such as art, an event, or a cause is key to understanding the power of patients. People have many interests in areas outside of their health but there can and should be critical intersection points that spark new conversations, and especially ones around clinical research.
As the Executive Director of a non-profit, Greater Gift, I have witnessed the impact of connecting philanthropy to trial participation. Clinical trial participants who have received a Greater Gift certificate in celebration of their intent to enroll in a trial better understand their interest and willingness can and does make a difference at that moment and beyond. The stories of impact are many and the reciprocal gratitude is often.
What if every clinical professional sought to do something of this magnitude? A patient may never hear results of the trial that they participated in, and can often be forgotten or feel as if they did nothing to help advance medicine. A connecting factor not only encourages them in the trial process but can empower patients to champion clinical research within their personal networks and communities.
How to effectively engage can only be found by wearing the patient’s hat first. Understanding what is important to trial participants is central to harnessing the power behind the patient. We can no longer rely on traditional means of transforming patients into trial participants, but must utilize one of the most effective methods of reaching more clinical trial participants – the patients.
I can share from experience, that when you deliver both a positive trial experience and connect with what matters to the patient, you will discover empowered patients who spread the word and champion clinical research as a care option.
What will you do to examine clinical research through the lens of the patient?