Though the industry is aligned on the importance of patient engagement, successful implementation of patient-focused strategies aimed at improving the patient experience remains more the exception than the rule. The most significant opportunities for improvement continue to be increasing awareness of clinical trials as possible care options, as well as making clinical trials more accessible and convenient for patients and caregivers. In a survey conducted by CISCRP, 84% of patients would consider a clinical trial if their physician suggested they do so. However, a survey conducted by Research Across America revealed that only 30% of patients ever discussed clinical trials with their physician. For this reason, many patients and caregivers turn to friends, family and the internet for more information regarding their medical condition and treatment options. Processing the abundance of complex and sometimes conflicting information is overwhelming at best, making it even more important to increase awareness of clinical trials as care options.
Given the vital role physicians play in determining appropriate care options, it is imperative that the industry do more to educate and enable physicians to access clinical research trials for their patients. According to the 2019 Clinical Trials Landscape report published by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network:
- 56% of patients will not have a local trial available for their cancer
- 17% will be ineligible for a trial due to exclusion criteria
- Many eligible patients will not be asked by their provider to enroll
- Only 27% of cancer patients will have the option to enroll in a local clinical trial
Improving patient access to clinical trials starts at home by training and developing more physicians to become clinical research investigators—the more physicians participating in clinical research, the more options available to their patients.
PPD is doing its part to develop new clinical research sites by offering SiteCoach, a comprehensive training program coupled with ongoing support in the conduct of clinical trials to reach more patients. By adding new research sites and enabling them to be successful in the conduct of clinical trials, we will broaden the pool of patients potentially eligible for trials. The program is designed to address the industry challenge of site and patient access for pharmaceutical and biotech companies developing promising new therapies, as well as to provide a more convenient and palatable option for patients to access additional care options closer to home.
SiteCoach training is performed between site qualification and activation, before the study, during the study and after the study to provide a full continuum of support. Training can be delivered virtually, face-to-face or combined as needed. Features include a user-friendly online interface, a learner community portal offering resources and tools, a learner forum and mobile gaming designed to increase learner retention.
Several universities are adopting the program, such as Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Medical School, to increase students’ and faculty members’ capabilities and success in research involving clinical trials.
PPD is also partnering with a number of sponsors to train sites in rural areas to reach underserved and minority patients. Increasing the amount of clinical research in the community serves to enhance enrollment of more diverse patient populations by enabling the physicians treating underrepresented patient groups –minorities, women, the elderly—to participate in clinical trials.