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A key to site success is a patient-centered approach

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Pulse on Site Success by Christophe Berthoux

Our industry is inundated with new buzz words and concepts related to innovation, site centricity, patient centricity, patient affairs and patient engagement. It is commonplace to see new job titles and functions created to develop operational processes around these concepts. As clinical research sites, we have focused on understanding the patients we serve face-to-face every day. While the concept of patient centricity may once have been called “patient recruitment” or “patient retention,” these terms include the same elements as those found in the phrase “patient as a participant” emphasized today.

In addition to finding ways to understand patient centricity as it relates directly to clinical trial participation, we must also find ways to unlock the vault of information that will provide insight into how we mobilize more participants and diversify them in research studies. As healthcare providers place the patient at the center of the healthcare ecosystem, we must do the same. This transformation will require more than just following social media patterns, for example.


The term patient centricity is being used globally in a variety of settings such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, within clinical trials and during drug development. According to Cheryl Lubbert, president and CEO of Health Perspectives Group, there are three core patient-focused principles.

Regular contacts—Relationships require long-term contact and must be built over time. There is no time limit on patient centricity.

Patient perspective—To be truly patient-centric, we need to emphasize the experience of patients individually and collectively, not just the numbers they represent.

Open innovation—This approach requires listening to the needs and wants of  patients and solving the problems they represent in the best way possible for them.

Sarah Beeby, vice president, Global Strategic Service Development at Synexus, believes that the Synexus patient engagement team has created a model that places the patient at the center of clinical trials preparation and management. Recent data gleaned from the analysis of metrics as it relates to time and study startup activities suggests that patient communication in the startup stage and the emphasis on the patient relationship is time-consuming. The time commitment placed around patient needs and perceptions of the trial does, however, translate to more rapid enrollment once a study begins.

An emphasis for sites as they take on a more patient-focused approach includes engaging with patients through appropriate messaging so they know what to expect when they arrive at the site and ensuring reliability in reporting feasibility to meet targeted enrollment. 

True implementation of the concept of centricity involves the entire research team’s commitment to spending time, energy and expertise on developing and executing methods to facilitate patient involvement. It is clear that the site must embrace patient centricity fully and determine where it fits into one’s organization.  In order to fully customize patient engagement, intense insight must be developed. Organizational buy-in over time will be required. At the end of the day, patients want to be empowered and have improved outcomes in healthcare or in the context of clinical trials participation.

It is time to stop talking and start listening. This is the first step in developing a patient-focused clinical trial experience. 

Dr. Christophe Berthoux has been the chief executive officer at Synexus since September 2010. Synexus is the world’s leading site management organization (SMO), dedicated to the recruitment and management of clinical trials across the globe for over 24 years. Synexus is proud to be the patient’s choice for clinical research. Email comments and questions to sarah@vanepercy.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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