What’s missing in clinical research?

COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in clinical research. The key for a successful transition towards decentralised and virtual studies is patient engagement. But what is patient engagement and what role does it play in clinical research?

Patient engagement refers to the ability of patients to fully participate in healthcare and as such equip, enable and empower patients to manage their own health”. 

To facilitate patient engagement, digital health solutions such as apps or wearable technology are used ever more frequently. As a result, applications have been developed that help patients self-monitor clinical symptoms, inspire behavioral changes and improve the interaction between patients and clinicians. 

However, despite its enormous promise, the full potential of digital health has not been realized yet since patients are not using the tools as frequently as they could. On average, a medical app has a 90-day retention rate of only 30%. This low usage of digital health solutions is not due to a lack of demand. New technology will only be used by patients if it is felt to be relevant for their own health, is easy to use, changes behavior effectively and is engaging. Many digital health solutions fail to address the issues that matter to patients and therefore do not feel relatable. Up to 67% of patients regard engagement to be essential. At the same time, 44% felt that engagement was lacking1

Moreover, patient engagement, and the underlying frustration of patients, may very well drive changes in the industry. 52% of patients who do not feel engaged enough, would consider switching to a healthcare provider that does offer more insight into their personal treatment1. Furthermore, patient engagement has been linked to improved clinical outcomes and thus represents a valuable tool to enhance the standard of care2. In order to make digital health solutions more effective and reach their full therapeutic potential it is crucial to increase the level of patient engagement.

Also in clinical trials patient engagement plays an important role. The complexity of clinical study protocols often results in missed visits, bending of procedures and failed therapy, ultimately resulting in patient dropouts. In fact, patient dropouts account for 38% of clinical trial failure3. Furthermore, 85% of all clinical trials fail to meet their milestones, resulting in delays and accompanying costs4. Moreover, up to 50% of all trials rely on paper-based solutions and thereby fully neglect the important role of patient engagement. Use of digital health solutions with enhanced patient engagement has shown to increase patient retention rates up to 95%5, thereby facilitating a more efficient execution of clinical trials and a reduction of time to market for new drugs.

Digital patient engagement will not only aid patients in their desire to manage their own health, but also enhance efficiency for healthcare providers and generate a wide source of data that can be used to guide personalized treatment, which may improve treatment outcomes even further. By engaging the patient, all will prosper.

At PatchAi, we engage the patients at every step. To learn how you can implement a human-centric solution click here.


1 http://www.accenture.com/gb-en/Pages/insight-people-impressions-health-care.aspx
2 Birnbaum et al., Acad Emerg Med, 2015. doi: 10.1111/acem.12692
3 https://crfweb.com/pros-and-con-of-adopting-an-edc-application-for-your-next-trial/  
4 https://www.meddeviceonline.com/doc/retention-clinical-trials-keeping-patients-protocols-0001
5 https://patchai.io/