BBK Worldwide’s annual Study Voices surveys check in with healthcare consumers, medical professionals and pharmaceutical industry leaders, offering a glimpse into their evolving thoughts and perceptions on the clinical trial field. Outsourcing-Pharma (OSP) recently spoke with Elizabeth Gargill, a member of BBK Worldwide’s market development team, about what the latest survey reveals and what the findings might mean for clinical trial teams.
OSP: Could you please share an overview of the Study Voices survey, i.e. its history, what the questions touch upon, who the respondents are, and what the surveys?
EG: The BBK Worldwide (BBK) Study Voices 2020 survey gives voice to the healthcare consumer and identifies shifts in attitudes and behaviors since the onset of COVID-19 – insight that clinical trial sponsors can leverage for enrollment and engagement efforts. This survey is part of our ongoing series of surveys designed to inform the patient experience – something BBK has been committed to for many years as we work to help patients more easily integrate clinical trial participation into their lives.
There’s no question that COVID-19 has been a catalyst for accelerating the adoption of several innovative solutions as studies shift to hybrid and virtual models. However, we wanted to gather data that could inform long-term adoption and empower clinical trial sponsors to embrace solutions with confidence, so we focused on three areas:
- Telehealth adoption and long-term interest
- Tools and technologies that impact clinical trial decision-making
- Shifts in clinical trial interest and awareness
We divided the survey into three audiences: patients, medical professionals, and members of the pharmaceutical industry for a total of just over 1,200 responses. We asked the medical professionals and members of the pharmaceutical industry questions relative to their field but also some of the same questions we asked the healthcare consumers.
OSP: What are some of the most notable patient findings from this time around?
EG: The findings confirm a strong demand for telehealth. Patients cited convenience, reduced risk of COVID-19, and immediacy as important factors when asked what they like most about telehealth; convenience and immediacy are consistent with what we already know about today’s healthcare consumer who demands these in their healthcare experience, so we’re not too surprised.
However, we were a bit surprised to see such a positive experience with telehealth; 62%, of healthcare consumers rated their experience between 8 and 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = negative; 10 = positive). Looking ahead, 64% of healthcare consumers would like to have a combination of telehealth and in-person visits, while 26% prefer in-person only, and 10% prefer telehealth only.
The findings also reveal the solutions that matter most to patients when deciding on clinical trial participation. They ranked “immediate reimbursement” followed by “access to a study website,” and “being able to text message with study staff” as the three most important factors.
Study apps, medication delivery, telehealth, and in-home nurse visits were also important. In terms of barriers to participation, out-of-pocket expenses was at the top of the list.
As you might expect from recent news coverage, we saw dramatic growth in clinical trial awareness, with 43% of healthcare consumers indicating an increased awareness of clinical trials since the onset of COVID-19 – with many citing technology as a key factor that would make it easier for them to participate.
OSP: What do you think patient respondents’ answers about factors like telehealth, barriers to trial participation, motivations to enroll, etc., could be of use to trial sites and sponsors?
EG: I think the answers reinforce the importance of investing in tools and technologies to support the patient experience, especially as lives become more complex in the wake of COVID-19. They also speak to the fact that regardless of a pandemic, a better patient experience can be achieved with solutions that offer convenience, access, and immediacy. So when study visits can be done remotely, they should be, and when study medication can be delivered to a patient’s home, it should be, and so on.
OSP: Similarly, what can you tell us about the responses given by the medical professional respondents, and about the pharma industry respondents?
EG: We learned quite a bit from these audiences, and we will be releasing more findings and analysis soon. But if we look at telehealth, for instance, we saw that the medical professionals and members of the pharmaceutical industry were aligned with patients in terms of their desire to incorporate telehealth into healthcare management moving forward. Patients and study sponsors were slightly more aligned in their overall experience and attitude towards telehealth.
It was also clear that telehealth creates efficiencies, with 53% of medical professionals indicating that telehealth visits allowed them to spend more time with patients compared to in-person visits, and 69% indicating that telehealth visits helped them increase their daily patient volume.
OSP: COVID-19 looms large all over the clinical research and drug development landscape—can you share how the pandemic’s impact shows up in this survey?
EG: The survey reveals that the pandemic has increased willingness to consider clinical trial participation by 47%, which clinical trial sponsors can look to leverage. It shows that patients are comfortable with technology and willing to embracing telehealth in order to minimize COVID-19 risk.
It also reveals that “concern about risk of exposure to COVID-19” is a top barrier to clinical trial participation right now, which sponsors can address with services that enhance patient safety such as medication delivery, in-home nurse visits, and ground transportation that follows CDC personal hygiene recommendations.
OSP: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us that we didn’t touch upon above?
EG: Between the three audiences we surveyed, there’s quite a bit of data. We’ve only released our initial findings. We invite your readers to keep an eye out for the release of additional data, available on our website, bbkworldwide.com.