Driving Patient Centricity in Clinical Trials

By DT editorial staff

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Clinical trial sites’ use of digital technology to plan or execute the studies that the pharmaceutical industry sponsors significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uptake of such tools nearly doubled to 80% in the two years to 2022, according to our most recent Clinical Trial Digital Tracker report, but that growth now appears to be in reverse, suggesting we may have heading for a ‘new normal’ level for digital tech within clinical studies.

If this is the case, our Clinical Trial Digital Tracker research programme – which we’ve been running since 2020 – points to some ways pharma companies can help improve the efficiency of the way digital technology is used in clinical trials.

There’s an encouraging trend to be found in research sites’ shift of focus towards improving the patient experience they provide, alongside rising uptake of patient-facing technologies. However, the continuation of this is threatened by a lack of support from pharma sponsors, which do poorly at meeting research teams’ expectations.

To explore these challenges and what they mean for pharma companies, contract research organizations (CROs), and research sites, DT’s Research Director Francesca Properzi took part in a recent online event.

The webinar on unlocking the potential of CROs and Research Sites’ partnerships to drive patient centricity saw her discuss the current state of digital maturity in clinical trials.

She also shared some impactful strategies that sponsors can adopt to enhance the execution of their clinical studies that will ensure the interests of all stakeholders are aligned.

These included the need to improve the level of customer experience (CX) that pharma’s clinical organizations provide to the research sites they work with.

Currently research sites report that their interactions with the pharmaceutical industry provide them with just a fair level of customer experience, as assessed by our Customer Experience Quotient® (CXQ®) metric, putting the sector out of range for now of the CX excellence to which it should be striving.

This has important implications for pharma. Clinical trial sites that give excellent CXQ® ratings to pharma sponsors say that excellent experiences make them more willing to collaborate with the sponsor and participate in their research again. They also have a better image of the sponsor organization.

Clinical trial sites reporting high CXQ® scores need far less improvement in areas like digital communication channels, data flow and query handling, and integration of patient views into study design than sites that score their interactions with pharma sponsors as poor.

Driving sustainable clinical digital initiatives

Digital technologies have huge potential to increase clinical trial success rates, but pharma companies have yet to harness their full potential to improve long-standing challenges with patient recruitment and retention.

As pharma sponsors work to enhance patient-centricity and address these challenges, it will be important to maintain a flexible approach towards digital initiatives. This can be underpinned by investing in site-level infrastructure, ensuring data privacy, and driving effective and transparent communication with CROs and research sites.

The clinical trial ecosystem is a complicated one, as the webinar notes, with multiple stakeholders, so aligning the interests of all the key players will be vital if pharma is to drive successful, sustainable clinical digital initiatives.

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