The Future of Clinical Research Is Personalized: How to Increase Clinical Research Enrollment and Engagement
By Raj Sharma, Executive Director of Digital Strategy and Transformation
Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and had a barista recognize you by name? Or have you ever stayed at a hotel that left its guests a box of chocolates with a personalized note? In a world increasingly marked by mass communications to siloed demographics, personal touches like these help us feel valued.
In healthcare and clinical research, the effects of personalization may be even more significant. Patients don’t want to feel like a statistic. They want individualized services that can improve their outcomes. As clinical research becomes digitized, there are more opportunities than ever for nuanced solutions that connect with people.
“We’re already seeing that millennials and younger generations won’t be the same kinds of patients as their parents,” said Eric Dishman, chief innovation officer of the NIH’s All of Us precision medicine research project. This generational shift toward personalization gives us a glimpse into the future of healthcare. As digital solutions become increasingly refined in healthcare, individualized content and outreach for all age groups will increase.
According to Dr. Adrian Hernandez, M.D., MHS, a cardiologist with extensive experience in clinical research at Duke University School of Medicine: “Now, people are expecting (clinical trials) to be more designed toward them, to be convenient, flexible, and personalized and to do more and more at home at their own convenience.”
The concept and application of patient centricity in clinical research today has drastically shifted the clinical research landscape as patients are more involved than ever before in all aspects of clinical development. From contributing to the design and planning of research protocols and the selection of outcomes and end points, to the development of recruitment and retention strategies, and the dissemination of research results, patients are taking a more active role in shaping how clinical trials are planned and conducted with their best interests in mind.
Once regarded as “subjects” who had research performed on them, patients are now contributing across the spectrum of clinical development, including in the design and planning of research protocols, selection of outcomes and end points, development of recruitment and retention strategies, and dissemination of research results.
Elligo embraces personalization as part of its thoughtful approach to delivering the best patient experience possible, enriching the participant experience by addressing their needs — even before they know they have them. Delivering the right message at the right time to the right person in clinical research is key to optimal participant engagement and support.
Participation in clinical research often comes at a vulnerable time in a patient’s life. Research on personalization suggests that its use induces increased trust and loyalty and improves long-term retention rates. Creating personalized experiences by using a participant’s name, incorporating participant data via an Apple Watch, or understanding participant preferences regarding one-on-one personal conversations help participants feel fully supported in a study.
Personalization also indicates higher levels of engagement and participation within clinical studies. Individuals are more likely to notice personalized messages, sometimes leading to 50% increases in message-open rates. Further, texting allows researchers to connect with participants through a communication channel they use every day. Text messages are highly engaging, with a 98% open rate. Personalized automated texting allows researchers to contextually support participants at scale.
In today’s digital world, researchers are able to collect more data than ever before. Sources like mobile applications, wearable devices, next-generation DNA sequencing, AI medical image analysis, and other real-world data collection tools now augment clinical research. These allow researchers to develop a clearer understanding of a patient’s journey, provide ways to track diseases, optimize treatments, and provide insights from patients in their own words to accelerate clinical development.
Through AI assistants and other remote engagement technologies, patients can report their symptoms, treatment burdens, and quality of life experiences in real time, helping researchers identify gaps in treatment and unmet therapeutic needs. These AI assistants connect with patients and capture longitudinal data to show how a person’s disease is progressing over time.
The ability to integrate and analyze data from multiple sources to form multifaceted patient profiles leads to intelligent, personalized care. Combining personalization, patient centricity, and technology solutions in clinical research leads to higher enrollment, engagement, and quality of care — all powerful tools in our mission to bring the benefit of research as a care option to everyone.