Medable's enhanced electronic consent making patients feel more human and less like study subjects

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags digital consent decentralized clinical trial patient engagement Patient recruitment Patient centricity Research

Results from a new research project have been announced by technology provider Medable on the enhanced electronic informed consent (elC) in clinical trials.

Medable partnered with Duke University Department of Population Health Sciences Bioethics and stakeholder (BASE) lab for the pilot study that compared participant comprehension and usability, satisfaction, and preference of enhanced elC versus text-only elC. It specifically explored the use of interactive videos, graphics, calendars, and other tools to augment text in an elC form.

The study looked at 24 patients who reviewed an eIC in a mock study for an investigative medicine to treat hypertension. Half reviewed the text-only eIC first followed by the enhanced eIC, and the other half did the opposite.

The study population was diverse in gender, age, race, and geographic location. Nearly three-fourths (71%) of the study participants said the enhanced eIC was more informative and indicated that the digital elements were personable and made them feel more informed, engaged, comfortable, and prepared to participate in clinical research.

“The enhanced eIC is more appealing to me as a human being, not just a study subject,” said a 63-year-old male participant.

“It made me feel more comfortable and showed that people were really thinking about what needed to be done to make this more understandable to a layperson. Taking the time to put those extra digital explainers in the consent form gave me a personal feeling attached whereas the other format was dry and cold…just a piece of paper.”

Surpassing paper consent forms

The use of elC may surpass the use of paper consent forms as decentralized approaches and technology become more and more common in clinical trials.

Medable’s findings in its large biannual survey on patient experiences with clinical research, it found that patient experiences with clinical research, use of electronic consent forms on iPads, tablets or other devices increased from 24% in 2019 to 44|% in 2021, dipping slightly in 2023 to 32%.

Duke BASE lab’s and Medable’s findings suggest that enhancing the eIC process with digital elements, including videos, knowledge checks, and drop-down menus, may have beneficial outcomes among potential participants beyond comprehension and satisfaction.

“Digital technology can be perceived as less personal, so we were surprised to learn that the digital enhancements had a personal impact on participants and may help improve the consenting process in trials,” said Amy Corneli, director of the BASE Lab and an associate professor in Duke’s Department of Population Health Sciences.

“Further, because the initial consent process happens at the start of a trial, an enhanced eIC may pave the way for a more personalized connection for participants much sooner in the trial process.”

$10 million ROI from decentralized trials

Medable, which ranked in the top 8% of software companies on the 2023 Inc. 5000​, has deployed its software-as-a-service platform in more than 300 decentralized and hybrid clinical trials in 60 countries, serving more than one million patients and research participants around the world.

Customers have achieved impressive results – including 200 percent faster enrollment and 50 percent cost reductions. A Tufts Center for the study of drug development study​ shows that, on average, decentralized trials can achieve net financial benefits from five to 13 times for phase 2 and phase 3 trials, equating to roughly $10 million return on investment (ROI) and $39 million ROI for an investment of on average of $500,000 in Phase 2 and $1.5M in Phase 3.

Dr Pamela Tenaerts, chief scientific officer at Medable, added, “We will continue partnering with leading academia like Duke’s BASE Lab, Tufts CSDD, Harvard MRCT, and others to gather systematic evidence of technology’s impact on trial execution. Evidence of how new methodologies impact protocol performance and trial experience is how we will affect real change. Whether using AI, eIC, or other innovations, Medable is committed to leading responsible, evidence-driven clinical trial transformation.”

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