5 learnings about clinical trials that might surprise you

5 learnings about clinical trials that might surprise you

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5 surprising things we've learned while building software for clinical trials

At Stitch, our product philosophy is to build with users, for users. We do this by spending a lot of time talking to users of our products. You can read about how we do this with patients here.

In this time, we’ve learned a lot about what patients, sites and sponsors want from software on their trials. These learnings were surprising to us, and have helped shape our approach, so we wanted to share them with you.

1. Trial participants want to share their feedback

Learning from Dave Marshall, Senior Product Manager

Only 3% of trial participants are currently asked for their feedback on their trial, according to research by Publicis Health. A common reason we hear from sponsors is that they don’t want to burden participants with more work - however we’ve spoken to many patients and an overwhelming majority want to provide feedback. In a focus group held jointly with WMUK, all attendees stated that giving feedback was desirable and not a burden.

This is fantastic news for sponsors, as letting participants share feedback reveals hidden opportunities to improve your trial. Without capturing feedback, you risk “silent sufferers” - participants in your trial hitting barriers to participation but not being able to communicate that to you. When silent suffering hits, you miss the chance to improve the situation, not only for them, but for everyone else too.

Given this, it’s no wonder that Cancer Research UK are seeing more than 1 survey response per patient in one of their studies on the Stitch platform. Read the full case study here.

2. Implementing patient tools can be made easy with the right technology foundation

Learning from James Allen, CTO

We know how important it is that trial timelines are met and technology is off the critical path of study start up. With this in mind, we have designed the Stitch platform and processes to make implementation simple and fast.

In clinical trials, software implementation is often stated to take 6-8 weeks and can be considerably slower, placing study timelines at risk. This is typically due to each implementation requiring custom code, so even small changes require developer involvement and heavy quality processes.

When I started Stitch, I had a vision of code free implementations. Building a platform that allows you to model any clinical trial protocol was challenging, but our investment here means we can implement in days, and make changes in minutes.

This is why our implementation satisfaction is 100%.

3. Investing in patient experience delivers a quantifiable ROI

Learning from Mike Sterling, COO

In our industry, customer experience is often thought of as a soft science and a nice to have. But in the consumer space, companies live or die by their customer experience, which they measure with hard, quantifiable metrics like usage and retention.

Our hypothesis when starting Stitch was that by bringing consumer best practice to the clinical trial space, we could save the industry billions per year in wasted recruitment spend. Since then, we’ve been able to quantify lots of additional benefits, such as:

  • Reducing participant drop outs by making trial participation easier
  • Reducing missed visits with confirmation of attendance
  • Improving protocol compliance with timely and contextual reminders
  • Reducing screen failure rate by improving the screening process

These benefits are enormous, and I believe that in a few years, every single study will have an end-to-end patient engagement and feedback platform.

This is made more likely by customers such as Cancer Research UK sharing that they are seeing a 3x ROI from using Stitch, in a recent case study.

CRUK case study metrics

4. Multiple patient technologies can be a good thing, as long as they add value and are easy to use

Learning from Martha Bowler, Software Engineer

At Stitch we challenged ourselves to make our product as frictionless as possible, to make sure that everyone could get the benefit of our platform.

When we spoke to users, they said that they wanted technologies to support them, but found that having to download apps and follow complex login flows created barriers between them and the product. We saw that by having a web app that doesn’t require a dedicated download, and by making logins trivial from emails, we could make the participant experience as friction free as possible for our trial participants, whilst still maintaining high security standards.

Removing these barriers sets a new standard for accessible and easy-to-use healthcare technology that lets everyone get the digital support they need. That’s why we’re so proud of the reaction we get from people like Jeremy:

"I think it’s very good. It’s well thought through; anticipating the needs of the patients. I am so impressed."
- Jeremy, Trial participant

5. Sites want new technology, but only if it helps them

Learning from Cathy Wang, UX Designer

Sponsors often tell us that site burden is a big blocker when considering new technology like Stitch. We have worked closely with site users to actively involve them in the design process to ensure that Stitch solves real problems that they are facing, and ultimately saves them time.

When speaking with a major US site network, they shared their biggest pain points were patients missing visits, and patients showing up to the visit unprepared. They had set up a call centre, with multiple full time staff, to manually remind patients to attend their visit, and explain the visit requirements. This reduced missed visits by 36%.

By automating this process, and other manual processes, we empower sites to focus on what really matters - patient care and trial delivery, resulting in a better trial for everyone. That’s why we’re proud of quotes from our site users such as Sharon:

“Stitch is really easy to use and helps us support our patients. We should use this for all our studies!”
- Sharon, Trial coordinator at NHS The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals

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