‘Agile Clinical Trials’ Promise to Improve Patient Recruitment and Retention

Elisa Cascade

Elisa Cascade, MBA, Chief Product Officer, Advarra

When Elisa Cascade, chief product officer for Science 37, looks to the future, she’s excited about what she sees.

“In the old model, patient recruitment was the leaky funnel” slowing clinical trials and dissipating effectiveness, Cascade says. Studies have shown the average person is willing to travel about 30 minutes each way to regularly participate in a trial, she notes. “They either don’t have time, they are too sick, or they don’t see enough benefit in the trial” to extend much more effort, she adds.

However, Cascade is excited about the rise of “agile clinical trials,” which at their best can mesh remote aspects of decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) with direct patient care to widen the participation tent and improve diversity. “Agile clinical trials are about taking the clinical trial to wherever the patient is,” she notes. “Clearly, it’s a benefit to patients to remove geography” as a barrier to engage in a clinical trial, she says.

Yesterday’s clinical trial required patients to go to a brick-and-mortar location for even the most basic components of a trial, Cascade says. “We were losing patients every step of the way,” in part because of the logistical obstacles they faced to remain involved in the trial, she adds.

“DCT has been a catalyst for increased use of electronic reminders, electronic notifications, electronic [informed] consent, and other checklist items” to streamline trial operations and make it easier for patients to participate, she notes.

Increased used of technology, be it in a DCT or agile clinical trial, can also “flag” bad data and reduce the number of queries, Cascade says.

Still, along with the added benefits of technology comes added responsibility for clinical trial practitioners, she notes.

“The future clinical trial workforce is going to have to be more comfortable with technology and trouble-shooting,” she says. For example, “When a wearable isn’t working or a patient has questions, they’ll call the site to get help, and personnel there need to be able to help” patients better understand and leverage technology, she says.

Author: Michael Causey