5 Ways eLearning Can Help Patients on Your Clinical Trial

Posted by Heather Pitt on Jun 20, 2019 2:52:28 PM
Alarmingly, many patients who say they are satisfied with the informed consent process are unable to recognize terms used throughout their clinical trial’s protocol. Unfortunately, comprehension barriers do not always end at the consent stage and can continue over the course of a study with a negative impact on patient retention and compliance.

We know it can be challenging for busy clinical trial site staff to fully discuss and explain complex topics with and for patients within the time constrictions of an average clinical trial visit appointment. An alternative approach is to embrace patient touch points during the trial as teachable moments, opening up the opportunity to provide ‘just-in-time’ information about the task in hand when it is relevant. To this end, the eLearning technique of microlearning, which is defined as the breaking down of information and education into manageable chunks, can help.

When used to deliver health information and especially when combined with mobile technologies, microlearning has huge potential to support clinical trial patients, as further described in the following sections. 

Make Your Trial More Patient Centric

Providing clinical trial patients with “transparent, comprehensible trial information, data and results” has been cited as one of the four key pillars of patent-centricity. However, what this means for individual patients is different. Some patients might wish to digest a 20-page trial protocol; those who don’t, however, need different options. Microlearning is designed to work at a pace dictated by the learner. It means providing access to information when it is needed and in people’s chosen format. In the context of a clinical trial, this means that key information can be easily accessed, quickly completed, and acted upon by patients.

Keeps Patient Engaged from Consent to Closeout

Microlearning techniques are an ideal way to ‘inform’ and ‘empower’ clinical trial patients from the very beginning of their trial participation to the end. For example, small digestible, personalized updates remind patients when they need to complete a task but also explain why it’s important they do so. We know from our focus groups that feeling well informed motivates participants to continue and, in turn, improves protocol compliance on your trial.

Provides the Perfect Format for 'Just-in-Time' Information Delivery

Patients need to understand information about their care right at the moment when they are being asked to make a decision or complete a task. This might include making the decision about whether to participate in a trial, to knowing how to take their trial medications, what procedures to expect at the Week 4 visit, or when to get in touch about side effects. Having information about all of these aspects at once can be overwhelming. But providing each chunk of information ‘as needed’ means it is much more likely to be retained and acted upon.

Conveniently Accessible from Anywhere

Perhaps the greatest advantage of microlearning is its compatibility with today’s mobile technologies and the way we now consume information – on-the-go, on a screen, and on demand. Rather than providing patients with reams of paperwork to take away and read, microlearning techniques breaks key information down into modules and turns it into digital content that can be viewed via tablets, smartphones, laptops, and desktops. This makes learning about complex topics convenient, fun, interactive, manageable, and achievable on a short train or bus journey.

Enhances the Limited Time Patients Have with Clinical Site Staff

Time with healthcare professionals is often very limited for patients. Microlearning can help here in two ways. Firstly, it breaks trial information into small chunks of content that are accessible on demand, which helps to provide day-to-day support to patients about their progress in the trial, when the next appointment is, and what to expect during that appointment. This means that when they do have time with their study nurse or doctor, they are likely to have fewer practical queries, which allows more time for deeper discussion about their health and treatment. Secondly, it can be used during clinical appointments to support a two-way dialogue between health professionals and patients. For example, a short video about the trial requirements ensures that patients are receiving the right information, at the right time, and in a format that fosters engagement and understanding. It’s also an opportunity to strengthen the nurse-patient relationship and build ongoing engagement throughout the trial.

In Summary:

  • Microlearning simply means turning complex information into bite-sized chunks. The learner then consumes the information at a pace and level that suits best.
  • Taking a microlearning approach to educating patients about a trial has a myriad of potential benefits from truly informed consent to deeper engagement throughout the study.
  • Microlearning is perfect for providing ‘just-in-time’ training and ideal for communicating information through a wide variety of channels and devices.
  • It can help to support two-way dialogue between healthcare professionals and patients during their limited face-to-face appointments.

clinical trial site staff ebook


Topics: Patient Centricity, Patient Compliance, patient engagement, eLearning, clinical trial training, clinical trial technologies, Clinical Trial Compliance, Informed Consent, Mobile technology, Clinical Reseach, Clinical Trials

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