Trial App Boosts Patient Engagement

by Melynda Geurts

With patient attrition in clinical trials on the rise, more than ever it is important to provide services that will ease the burden of participation. Studies that require caregiver support have special retention challenges. Sponsors need to engage caregivers with support tools that are created with them in mind.

A smartphone app can be a powerful clinical trial support tool. In its Global Attitudes survey, the PEW Research Center reports “overwhelming majorities in almost every nation surveyed report owning some form of mobile device.”

We created a study app to facilitate patient engagement in an international Alzheimer’s disease study. The app supported the study participant and caregivers, but more emphasis was given to the caregivers, who were 40–50 years of age with high levels of smartphone applications use.

The app linked patient and caregiver information at the site level. Each site was given its own portal and was able to sign up multiple caregivers for each of its patients. Active participation in clinical trials hinges on the relationship forged with the research staff (study coordinator, investigator, etc.), and the app helped to create an environment of unity among them.

The app’s features included:

  • Quick and easy access to pertinent study information
  • Visit reminders customized per patient and per visit with time, date, and location; included procedures and how to prepare for the visit
  • Alzheimer’s disease information
  • Healthy living tips
  • Push notifications that integrated with the patient’s smartphone calendar and phone book
  • One-touch site contact
  • Games
  • Facilitation of stipend payments

The app and its corresponding website were rolled out in local languages to sites in more than 25 countries. Utilization quickly reached 60 percent. And the sponsor’s goal of a 70 percent retention rate was exceeded by nearly 10 percent, reaching 78 percent.

The consumer marketplace quickly adopts technological advances. But they are not always as quickly adopted within the clinical research industry. Oftentimes it’s thought that getting information instantly into the hands of a potential subject/caregiver will yield success. In reality, the key is making sure the right information is conveyed using the mediums that are accepted and used by the intended audience.

If you’d like to learn more about Imperial’s Alzheimer’s app, a video is available here.


Pew Research:

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