“So, for the next visit, you’ll need to come fasted. You can have water, but nothing else. Avoid grapefruit juice, and don’t forget to take your meds 3 times a day, but on the day of your next visit, don’t take them until you get to the clinic. We’ll do a few blood draws and some walking tests first. Oh, and don’t forget to complete the diaries every second day. O.K. bye, see you next month.”
It’s not easy to participate in a clinical trial. Leaving aside the concerns about managing their condition and symptoms, patients have real-life commitments, including jobs and families to prioritize. So, being part of a clinical trial needs to be easy; it needs to fit in to their schedule. But complex protocols can equate to complex instructions for the participants, and the result is delays in recruiting patients and then the ongoing challenge of ensuring they complete the trial according to the protocol.
While the industry as a whole is taking really positive steps towards developing more patient-friendly studies, and the innovative use of wearables and home-based visits will certainly help, there are real steps we can take right now to make it easier for study participants.
At Longboat, we think that providing patients with the information they want about their study when they need it, in the format they use most, is a good start to improving patient-centricity. Our patient portal is designed to be a one-stop shop – where participants and their carers can find out about their trial and their progress through each visit, as well as access meaningful information about their condition and their treatment. Participants can sign up to receive visit reminders to their smartphones via SMS and/or email, with a full, easy-to-read guide of how to prepare for their next visit, how long it will take, and what will happen.
The Longboat Patient Portal allows study teams and sites to communicate directly with their patients. They can upload study updates, newsletters, status reports, items of interest, lifestyle guidelines, and lots more to make their patients feel informed, empowered, and valued. They can even send direct messages via SMS or email.
It is important too that as the trial completes, we thank the participants for their time and efforts. I often think back to a conversation I had with a lady when I was living in Manchester. It turned out she was a participant in a huge oncology trial I had managed. While I spent many years overseeing the running of that trial in the office, she was attending regular visits at the local hospital. And though I knew that the study was successful in proving the efficacy and safety of our drug, and was the one that ultimately brought the drug to market, she (as a participant in the trial) had never been told. That loop needs to be completed – and the Longboat portal will make that happen.
Patients are the heart of drug development. The data they provide is the ultimate key to the success of clinical trials, and we must ensure we - as an industry - put patients first.