Improving Clinical Research - An Interview on Making Trials Patient-Centric

Katherine Vandebelt
Global Head of Clinical Innovation

Hundreds of clinical trials are taking place every day, testing everything from vaccines and cancer treatments, to new medical devices and therapies. Each one of them has its own unique endpoints – the markers that will tell researchers if a new drug or device works – and its own set of complex protocols. But even though every trial is different, they all have one thing in common: patients.

Patients who are willing to participate in clinical trials are essential – after all, the purpose of clinical research is to take a new drug or device from the lab and see how effective and safe it is for humans. Some trials need hundreds of willing patients to enroll; others may have fewer spots to fill, but must do so from a much smaller pool of potential patients. And, now that researchers are understanding more about the role genetics plays in how drugs affect different people, finding a more diverse group of patients needs to be factored in when recruiting for a clinical trial.

Something that is sometimes forgotten or overlooked is that joining a clinical trial is a huge undertaking for patients – it can be physically and mentally draining, demanding, and time consuming, especially when factoring in the constant travel to the clinical site for check-ins. And yet, despite how critical patients are to their work, clinical researchers often struggle to make trials a patient-friendly experience. This makes it more difficult to recruit people for new trials, increase patient-retention, and follow study protocols.

In an episode of The Latest Dose podcast, Oracle Health Sciences’ Global Head of Clinical Innovation, Kathy Vandebelt, spoke with Joe Kim, Eli Lilly & Company’s Sr. Advisor, Digital Health Office and host of the Elixir Factor podcast, about some ways that companies can address this issue. In their discussion, Joe notes the problem begins with the researchers themselves, who are so involved in the process that it’s hard for them to take off their organizational hat and see things from the patient perspective. He believes that to change this, the first step in designing patient-friendly clinical research is to work with patients on the study design.

Joe also talked with Kathy about some new technologies that could change the patient experience for the better. Developments in telemedicine might help reduce how often patients need to travel to research centers for exams, while voice recognition and smart speakers could provide both patients and workers at trial sites an easier way to get information or answer important questions.

You can listen to the whole conversation by tuning into The Latest Dose. Make sure to check out our other podcast episodes while you’re there and show us some love by subscribing! A new episode will be released at the end of June.

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