Patient Engagement is the Key

I just came back from the 2014 Drug Information Association’s (DIA) Annual Meeting in downtown San Diego, the industry’s largest multi-disciplinary event.  This event brings together a community of life science professionals, at all levels and across all disciplines, involved in the discovery, development, and life cycle management of medical products.  This was my first year attending this event and I quickly realized that patient recruitment for clinical trials and medication adherence are hot topics amongst medical professionals.

According to SMI Health, a physician-owned marketing firm, patient enrollment delays 81% of all clinical trials up to six months, and another five percent even longer.  They also report that these delays cost billions of dollars and prevent potentially helpful drugs from being cleared.  Patient recruitment barriers, such as negative perceptions of the pharmaceutical industry and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), fears of side effects, and the lack of awareness of clinical trials, are at the heart of the problem.

One of the major barriers to recruitment and enrollment of patients in clinical trials is patients' lack of awareness about clinical trials.  Similarly, in a study of 1,013 U.S. adults, only 34% of respondents had heard of clinical trials (Reference).  If the major delay for a clinical trial is patient recruitment, and the major obstacle for patient recruitment is lack of awareness, it is apparent that clinical research organizations need to start utilizing mobile devices to send timely, scheduled alerts and follow up messages reminding patients to complete their assessments.   After all, the adoption of mobile devices, smartphones and electronic tablets, are proceeding at an astounding pace.

The healthcare sector has steadily embraced mobile technology, adopting the term “mHealth”, which refers to the use of mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes, healthcare services and health research.  By chatting with exhibitors at the 2014 DIA Annual Meeting, it is not surprising to see hospitals give tablets to outpatients for improved compliance and outcomes. I remember some of them even giving me the number as four out of five physicians now own smartphones and some 85% of nurses have been clamoring for the just-released mobile version of the 2013 Nursing Drug Handbook 6.

This is where the communication platform, GoMobile Interactive™ (GMI), brings value to the whole mHealth market. GMI allows a sender to compose a message utilizing user-defined templates using graphics, text or videos that are informational or in the form of a questionnaire.  The recipient responds by selecting corresponding answer(s) to the pre-assigned response keys.  This differs from push messaging, which are static messages and the response falls into a “yes/no” variable.  If the sender wishes to send out a customized message, they would do so manually, and only one recipient at a time can be chosen.

What better timing for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) to publish a related article on how patients really can help themselves. (http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-health-care-industry-is-pushing-patients-to-help-themselves-1402065145)  In this article, WSJ pointed out the fact that care providers want patients to take a more active role in monitoring their own health as it lowers healthcare costs, but the reality proves the opposite. 

patient-engagement_graphics

Take a look at the graphic to the left (sourced WSJ): 

All the above are calling for a mobile patient recruitment platform, that allows Clinical Research Organizations to expedite the patient enrollment process and drive awareness to their clinical trials. Their clinical trial will receive physician endorsement and bridge the communication gap, between physicians and their patients/caregivers, on anyone’s personal handset.

Clearly, there is a long way to go, but at least we are moving towards a more connected mHealth together.