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Should Clinical Trials Include the Patient Experience?

By Vera Gruessner

- The healthcare industry is focused on improving the patient experience across the board by ensuring patients understand all of their treatment options and receive the opportunity to rate their hospital services.

Patient Engagement in Drug Development

Promoting both engagement and the patient experience is expected to lead to higher quality care, better health outcomes, and lower costs, according to The American Journal of Managed Care. The focus on patient engagement has been high in hospitals and other medical facilities in order to ensure that outcomes are improved.

The publication also explains that it is beneficial to receive more input from patients regarding clinical trials and the creation of new drugs or treatments. The patient experience is especially important to ensuring new medications are appropriate for those with chronic medical conditions.

Patient involvement with drug development has been low and engagement has been practically nonexistent among those with chronic diseases. The patient experience and engagement only begins after clinical trial recruitment, which is after product design has taken place and preclinical research was completed.

It is time to change this system that keeps patients out of the drug development process and include the patient perspective in determining the type of drug side effects and risks worth going forward with due to overall health benefits. It is important for drug developers to take into account whether the potential advantages of a medication outweigh the risks and incorporate the patient perspective into these decisions.

Various stakeholders have already taken part in incorporating some of the patient perspective into clinical decision-making strategies when developing new treatments for those with chronic conditions. The purpose of incorporating the patient experience into the regulatory approval and clinical use portions of drug development is to ensure the products are truly beneficial for the end users themselves.

“Many methods to engage individuals currently exist, and patients have identified components of the engagement process that matter most to them. While there is increased awareness and activity in the area of patient engagement, efforts to advance the concept are fragmented and disjointed. What is needed is a cohesive framework for patient engagement, a vision for the future, and a collaborative effort to navigate forward,” The American Journal of Managed Care stated.

The publication offers some key strategies for healthcare stakeholders to take in order to improve the patient engagement process in drug development. Pharmaceuticals, health insurance companies, policymakers, and medical providers would all benefit from following some of these vital strategies.

First, patient engagement can be improved by developing a unified definition of what meaningful patient engagement will be throughout the product development continuum. Incorporating all available resources to better engage patients is important along with determining the barriers that stand in the way of integrating consumer involvement.

For instance, some of the challenges that must be overcome in order to optimize patient engagement include regulatory obstacles, legal issues, overall costs of new programs, and the community culture and style.

It is also beneficial for healthcare organizations to incorporate mobile health tools and the patient portal in an effort to improve the patient experience. According to EHRIntelligence.com, mHealth devices and the patient portal boosts engagement across the healthcare spectrum.

A survey conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions shows that consumer engagement is rising with regard to the use of online solutions as well as new fitness and wellness technologies.

“Although an increase in consumer engagement is evident, the change is taking place slowly,” the Deloitte report stated. “The pace could pick up if health plans, providers, life sciences companies, and other stakeholders take advantage of opportunities to increase engagement by accelerating development of online resources that provide the trusted, accurate, and easy-to-understand information consumers want and the types of health technologies consumers find most useful.”

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