When nobody in the audience for his session at the ACRP 2022 conference in Orlando this morning (April 23) raised their hand to claim that patient engagement strategies were both being delivered and having results as great as they wished at their study sites, Nathan Levens, director of virtual solutions and technology for RealTime Software Solutions, was not surprised.
“It goes to the spirit of ‘we can always do better,’” Levens said as he introduced the themes of a presentation on “Patient Engagement: Site Tools That Add Value.” He went on to argue for the value of study staff putting more time into the patient experience and thinking of study participants as their customers.
The more that study team members stay connected with study participants, inform them of study requirements and procedures, and remind them of important study-related activities, “the more they will remain compliant and provide timely and accurate data,” Levens said. Other benefits spelled out by Rick Greenfield, BBA-IS, CEO of RealTime, included the site gaining a better understanding of patient satisfaction levels with their research experiences, greater patient retention, accelerated patient recruitment, and enhanced access to hard-to-reach patient populations.
If some of the solutions to the challenges of patient engagement proposed during the session seemed relatively easy to operationalize, that only meant that they fit in well with an overarching sense of “keep it simple” being a theme for the two techXpo sessions featured at the conference’s first morning of regular educational programming.
At his session on “Operational Overload: Tools to Manage Complexity and Reduce Stress,” Alex Yant, solutions coordinator for Slope.io, inc., also hewed to the notion that cultivating an atmosphere of organization and mindfulness leads to better results for all stakeholders in clinical trials. Warning of the risks and consequences of operating at full speed all the time, he said that “chaos can be the result of a frenetic pace of trial conduct”—chaos such as shipments being scattered all over a site, inabilities to deal with spikes in patient recruitment, and having to go on “treasure hunts” for data when their keepers are unexpectedly out of contact.
Conducting trials at dragster competition speeds too often results in disconnects between sponsors, contract research organizations, and sites that can lead to inaccurate findings, protocol deviations, adverse events in patients, and risks to patients’ well-being, Yant noted. He went on to highlight how one survey of more than 200 clinical research coordinators in the U.S. found that although 75% were satisfies with their jobs, 44% reported high emotional exhaustion levels from the speed of their work routines.
On top of developing a detailed standard operating procedure for inventory management at sites, Yant recommends daily selfcare strategies for those in need of taking the stress out of their study routines. Such strategies include breaking up tasks into “smaller bites” and giving oneself “meaningful rewards” for accomplishing them; scheduling blocks of work on a digital calendar to stay on track; cultivating a “25 minutes on/5 minutes off” work habit; and journaling about one’s to-do’s and successes as reminders of important plans and accomplishments.
Author: Gary Cramer