mHealth and clinical trial recruitment and retention

Author: Sarah Iqbal

In our last post, we gave a list of 8 major reasons why patient recruitment in clinical trial is such a challenge. We concluded that there are challenging areas in patient recruitment and retention that can be addressed with a solution in digital health i.e. eConsent, mHealth (for clinical trials), remote monitoring and gamification. In a clinical trial, most of the challenges that can be addressed lies in patient recruitment and retention. Today, we will discuss further how mHealth can be used in this particular context.

In another previous post, we mentioned that mHealth in clinical trials have the potential to:

  • Capture data accurately – with apps, wearables and medical devices connecting seamlessly. Note that many wearables contain sensors that are just as sensitive and accurate as those found in clinical settings.
  • Remote tracking and monitoring (via apps and wearables) – earlier reporting of adverse events might translate to safer patient outcomes throughout the study
  • Real-time analysis – enable to improve efficiencies in processes and improve workflow
  • Influence behavior and health on patient (e.g. through gamification) – assist in patient retention

In this post, we are talking in a little bit more detail on influencing patient behavior (i.e. bullet point 4).

Patient engagement – it’s all about compliance

The healthcare industry is becoming even more patient-centric. Healthcare is extending its “institutional” role and it is becoming personal, universal and mobile. Many healthcare professionals are encouraging their patient to participate in their own care and treatment.

Driving greater patient engagement is a critical goal for healthcare organizations to ensure that the patient is actively engaged in his/her health outcomes. This not only drives improved patient outcomes, but also lowers the burden on the health system. This is critical in the clinical trial context because patient engagement is synonymous with compliance – and compliance is very important in progressing with a clinical trial.

Compliance means an individual obeys a directive from a health care provider. Engagement signifies that a person is involved in a process (in this context, the clinical trial process) through which she harmonizes robust information and professional advice with her own needs, preferences and abilities in order to prevent, manage and cure disease. Engaging patients in a clinical trial will help to retain them in a study and at the same time assist them throughout the clinical trial journey. When one is dealing with an illness, it can be such an overwhelming process joining a clinical trial as well as progressing through the trial. Hence, engaging with a patient throughout the process will ease the process for the patient and benefit everybody involved in a study trial.

The most important question now is; how do we engage the patients, particular using the technologies available in digital health? One way is through gamification. More on this topic in our next post!

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