Encouraging patient retention and diversity in clinical trials

  • 5Minutes

Accessibility is a big topic in the clinical research industry, and for good reason. 

For clinical trial results to be accurate and meaningful, there needs to be diversity among participants. Making trials more accessible for all can be achieved in a number of ways, including decentralization, teams that engage closely with communities, and the use of communication methods that embrace everyone.

The importance of making clinical trials and clinical trial technology more inclusive is indisputable. But potential patients first need to be made aware of the importance of clinical trials and what participation means. Without awareness, no amount of accessible practice will get patients enrolled in a trial.

What’s involved with taking part in a clinical trial? Why should I do it? Is it safe? How will I get paid? These are all questions the public needs answering before they’ll even consider whether clinical trial participation is for them. 

CROs and the curse of knowledge

The onus is on the industry to raise awareness of the purpose and value of clinical trials, so that the practice is demystified and people have a better understanding of what’s involved and the part they can play. If we don’t act swiftly and do more to raise awareness, the future and sustainability of clinical trials will be uncertain.

When you work in the field of clinical research or clinical trial technology, it’s easy to think the public knows what you know; that clinical trials are a critical component in advancing medical care and people are needed to take part in them. Such assumptions are a curse of knowledge

To find out how much the public does (and doesn’t) know about research through clinical trials, and their perceptions of the industry, we conducted a survey. 

The results were not only eye-opening but could also be useful for CROs when strategizing how to raise awareness and deciding what messages to prioritize. 

What the public really thinks about clinical trials

Comprising over 100 respondents, the survey collected answers from a wide spectrum of ages (evenly distributed between 18-55), races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

It was reassuring to see that the majority of people questioned – 83% – were aware of clinical trials and their purpose. Despite this, only one-fifth of respondents had participated in a trial, and most of those were over 36 in age. 

There was a clear correlation between age and participation. The younger the person, the less likely they were to have taken part in a trial or want to take part in one in the future. Although their awareness of clinical trials was high, people in the 18-25 age bracket expressed more caution about clinical trial participation.

How the industry can help shift perceptions about clinical research

The reasons for this age-related discrepancy are debatable, although perhaps they point to a mistrust of the medical profession among younger generations. The industry needs to do more to make its world more transparent, so that younger people can develop faith in the industry. 

There is a desperate need to educate the public – especially younger age groups – about the importance of clinical trials and what their success means for the future. Young people are historically underrepresented in clinical trials; yet, to advance treatments, we need their support. Far from losing their faith and increasing cynicism, the industry must convey that trial participation is imperative to improving people’s quality of life. 

Generation Z are motivated change-agents keen to contribute to a better world. It seems, though, that most aren’t aware that one way to do this is by becoming a clinical trial participant. This is something the industry must address.

On a positive note, 47% of respondents said they were likely to participate in a clinical trial in the future but would want to know more before committing. 

CROs would do well to view this as an indicator that the public has an appetite to learn more about what’s involved with clinical trial participation. Offering the information, through marketing and promoted content, could go a long way to improving patient recruitment.

Improving patient recruitment through payment choices

The survey also gathered insights into people’s favored payment methods. 80% of those questioned knew you could be paid for taking part in a clinical trial. When asked how they preferred to pay for things and be paid, responses varied.

Cash was the least popular payment method used by fewer than 3% of respondents. The most common was card payment, although 60% also sometimes or regularly used virtual methods, such as ApplePay, Venmo, or GooglePay. The older the respondent, the less likely they were to be familiar with virtual payment methods, with some having never used them.

The variety of responses showed that giving people choice is essential and is the only way to achieve satisfaction across all demographics. To encourage enrollment and patient retention, we need to make people’s lives as convenient as possible. Offering limited payment choices won’t do. Medtech platforms that offer choice are the way forward, as they cater to all ages and lifestyles.

Being able to offer people options, be it bank transfer, card payment, or a virtual method, makes patient recruitment and retention easier. SkyePay makes all these payment possibilities a reality, ensuring that every socioeconomic group feels included in clinical trials.

Addressing payment options is, thankfully, now simple. The challenges that remain are perhaps more difficult to overcome. We have a long way to go in raising awareness of the importance of clinical trials, addressing objections, and appealing to every generation and population group. However, having insight into public opinion is a vital first step in overcoming these challenges. 

Book a demo of the SkyePay system driving a revolution in patient payments to see how you could significantly improve the success of your clinical trials.



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