Patient Centric Clinical Trials

Guest blog by Rob Kroes, Project Lead Clinical Open Innovation Europe, Lilly Netherlands

Patient Centric Clinical Trials is the new buzz word in Clinical Development. At many healthcare conferences it is the main topic. A lot of time is spent on discussing the definition of a patient, internal procedures, and patient teams as part of the debate on clinical trial processes and compositions. This is all great, but we have to ask: does it actually make you a more patient centric organisation if you put the word patient in all your standard operating procedures?

Although the industry continuously innovates to help discover new treatment options for patients, we can struggle to adopt new technologies in their trial processes. If we really want clinical trials to be more patient centric we need to start by thinking differently. In other words, not thinking about how to fit patients into current processes, but totally redesigning the clinical trial process around patient needs. This requires a new mind-set. 

As an industry, we can start by viewing patients more as collaborators in a clinical trial. This will change the way in which the pharmaceutical industry designs trials and ensure they better incorporate patient needs in the clinical process. Lilly obtains patient input through various processes in which patients are actively involved in providing feedback on the initial protocol design and trial logistics. This process has proven to be invaluable for both parties.

Apart from the basic design, the pharmaceutical industry could also embrace new technology to improve the patient experience during a clinical trial.  With the new devices available the number of visits to the investigator sites can be greatly reduced, placing fewer burdens on both the patients and their family members. For example it is a big challenge for a patient with Alzheimer’s Disease to travel to the investigative site as most can’t travel alone and hence also need a family member or friend to accompany them.  Imagine the impact if the number of site visits could be reduced by for example 50%.

That leads me to my final point. When a clinical trial is finished many patients remain in the dark about what their contribution was worth. Yes the industry thanks them for participating, but there is so much more that could be done to help keep patients informed! Keeping them informed on further developments should be the standard.

At Lilly we are committed to changing our business model in all phases of the clinical development process in order to totally redesign the clinical trial process. Now that this new mind-set is established in our thinking we can expect many new developments benefitting both the patient and research communities.