Patients want more info about clinical trials. Here’s how biopharma can help

Enrolling clinical trials quickly can make a big difference in cutting the time it takes for patients to access new therapies and enabling sponsors to leapfrog rivals in the race to market. But while the industry has yet to address a fundamental barrier to enrollment—low patient knowledge of clinical trials—the good news is that patients are interested in learning more.

Patients want more information about clinical trials, and biopharma now has the tools to reach them, new data from Phreesia Life Sciences suggests. A Phreesia survey of more than 4,000 people found that more than two-thirds (68%) of surveyed patients said they were interested in learning more about trials.

Only a tiny fraction of patients currently participate in clinical trials, and one key problem is that many people simply don’t know about them. 80% of surveyed patients said they were “not very familiar” with clinical trials, and that lack of knowledge could stop patients from asking about trials or put them off from participating.

By meeting patients’ demand for more information, the industry could increase the proportion of patients who have positive feelings about clinical trials—which currently sits at 41%—and clear an obstacle right at the start of the study enrollment pipeline.

Providing information via trusted sources is key to improving awareness. Asked about different sources of information about clinical trials, 46% of patients expressed a high level of trust in their doctors. The next two most trusted sources, at 34% and 26% respectively, were nursing staff and pharmacists.

While many people trust those sources of information, none of them provide clinical trial sponsors with a direct line to patients. Many of the ways pharma companies can directly engage patients are generally less trusted than healthcare professionals, with only between 5% and 10% of respondents saying they trust social media, pharmaceutical websites and printed materials outside of doctor’s offices.

Digital intake is the exception. Almost one-quarter (24%) of patients voiced a high level of trust in digital check-in platforms at their doctor's offices, making digital intake the fourth most widely trusted source of clinical trial information after doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

Trust in digital check-in platforms is also high across subpopulations of patients, with between 23% and 26% of respondents in each age demographic expressing high levels of trust in the channel. By race, trust in digital intake ranged from 21% among Asian patients to 30% among Black patients.

The survey results suggest digital intake can help clinical trial sponsors make their studies more diverse and representative of real-world populations, a long-standing challenge, and more generally address the patient knowledge gap. Sponsors that embrace the technology gain a trusted, direct line to patients in the moments before they visit their doctor to discuss their health and treatment.

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.