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Healthcare as a service offering

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Pulse on Patient Recruitment by Ashley Tointon

Healthcare is one of the most personal services you can encounter. As a patient, consider how the healthcare experience compares to other personal service offerings. In other service offerings, the importance of the overall experience, the personal touch and the perceived value of the service is what determines repeat business. As a patient in a clinical research study these same factors determine whether you will participate and may also determine whether you remain in the study or terminate your participation.

Although a rather broad term, “experience” encompasses multiple factors that guide decision-making. The logistics of getting there, the atmosphere once you arrive, the expertise of the staff and how you are greeted and treated are all factors that indicate whether or not you have a good service experience. Consider where you get your hair cut. Whether you frequent an upscale stylist or your community barber, you have an experience that you choose to repeat. In the same way, healthcare is a personal service that requires repeated transactions to sustain as a viable business.

Logistics play a huge part when deciding if you will consider or repeat a service encounter. Numerous factors are deliberated upon including whether the location is convenient to an everyday commute. Others may be whether the location is near public transportation, if there is parking, the hours of operation and assessing how hard it is to get to and from the location at specific times. Perhaps you have a local doctor close to your home and he/she recommends you for a clinical trial being conducted at a nearby academic institution. If the principle investigator for the trial is only accessible through a large university known to have high traffic and no good public transportation options, it could be a deterrent to participation.

Atmosphere can also make an impression, either good or bad. The environment of a community practice physician’s office may vary greatly from an academic medical center, and interactions with staff may be very different. Many clinical studies require patients to leave their familiar community physician and have their care transferred to an unfamiliar research provider.

Expertise of staff is also something to be cognizant of when deliberating whether you will partake in a service or not. Surprisingly, most of the staff at a research study site have competing activities and core responsibilities. There is no one single person accountable for the proper execution of one trial. Couple that with the fact that new personnel are often recruited and trained for each study. This causes a wide variance in professional quality of site staff. For some services, experience may not be an issue, but in healthcare the expertise of healthcare providers is highly sought after and valued.

More important than all of the other factors is how people are treated. According to a Zogby Analytics poll for Research!America, less than 10% of Americans participate in clinical trials and it may be due to the perception that patients do not necessarily receive better care. Because healthcare is so personal and because clinical trials are so regulated, it requires major personal skills and business acumen. Remember, without patients volunteering for studies there is no research. How these volunteers are treated will determine whether they will enroll, if they stay in a study and how they will discuss the experience with others.  

Ashley Tointon has more than 18 years of patient recruitment and project management experience. Currently she provides recruitment expertise, strategy and leadership as Principal Consultant of Accelerate Clinical Enrollment LLC. Email comments and suggestions to tointon@icloud.com.

This article was reprinted from CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »

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