In today’s increasingly virtual and decentralized clinical trials, it is more important than ever that researchers and trial staff be able to effectively communicate with patients. Consulting and designing clinical trials with the patient in mind requires strong communication skills. Putting patients first in trial design is only helpful if communication is handled well throughout the whole trial. Effective communication and patient experience haven’t always been given the same weight as patient safety and physical well-being when it comes to clinical trial design.
Why effective patient communication matters
The intricacy of clinical trial protocols necessitates good communication with experts during your Veristat clinical trial consulting. Patients need to be actively involved in the experiment from the beginning to the end, not just told what to do and how to do it. Digital communication makes up for the loss of face-to-face connection in decentralized and virtual trials. Connecting with patients online requires developing strategies for virtual check-ins. You can do this using tailored apps, video conferencing, telemedicine, and video diaries, and by training home-visiting nurses to provide excellent patient experiences. You need to put patients’ needs first by actively listening to them and then using their feedback to shape how you go about each successive step.
Here, we’ll look at three best practices for improving conversation in a virtual world and making your clinical trial go more smoothly.
Choose networks that everyone can access.
Virtual communication technologies are abundant; yet, not every site, sponsor, or CRA will or can use them. Some companies prohibit the usage of conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Meet because they haven’t verified their security for transmitting confidential information. Sometimes, remote monitoring is illegal because it violates local patient data privacy rules, and sometimes, places have poor connectivity that makes video conversations impossible. These problems can be avoided entirely by carefully planning out the technology for virtual clinical trials in advance, considering the needs and preferences of each individual involved.
Make it a team effort
Even if only one person on your team has official responsibility for communications, this is not a one-person job. Assign the full spectrum of trial-related activities, from scientific to community involvement, to a communication team that includes the PI, a community outreach staff member, and study coordinators. The members of this group should coordinate to create a strategy for internal communication and make sure that everyone on staff is aware of their responsibilities.
Promote patient engagement.
Developing a feel for the research environment in a virtual setting is far more difficult. For instance, signals and context may be ignored when CRAs don’t visit sites and teams operate remotely. Or, if a coworker hasn’t replied to a question, it might be hard to tell if they’re just ignoring you or if they’re struggling with something that prevents them from answering fully. You should swap out casual interactions to bridge these gaps for deeper, more meaningful dialogue. Find virtual alternatives and other platforms, or texting to check in and set expectations for when you’ll respond (or expect a response). These measures are designed to give the impression of connectedness in an otherwise isolating environment.
Virtual and hybrid trials are here to stay, so you need to modify your procedures to maximize their usefulness. Set clear expectations from the start of your trial, what channels you will use, and when an immediate reaction is needed to avoid miscommunications and build a more engaged research team.