Initiative by Innovative Trials to boost patient retention inspired by boy's love of collecting

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images (plus contributed from Innovative Trials)
© Getty Images (plus contributed from Innovative Trials)

Related tags Patient recruitment patient engagement Research patient retention Oncology Cancer

The father of a boy diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of nine, inspired by his son's love of collecting, has created patches of positivity for children going through cancer treatment to collect.

Brian Burkhardt began the Oliver Patch Project in 2020 after his son, Oliver, was diagnosed. Children going through treatment can receive regular patches, uniquely designed by artists, to keep them motivated and focused on staying positive throughout their treatment journey. More than 35,000 patches have provided support to thousands of children and teenagers in each of the 50 US states so far.

Now a whole new initiative designed to boost clinical trial patient retention in pediatric studies has been announced today (19 February) by Innovative Trials.

To engage directly with children and young people, the company, specialists in clinical trial patient recruitment and retention acceleration, has partnered with the Oliver Patch Project to launch the Retention Patch Program.

The company says research suggests engagement methods are associated with greater retention rates in pediatric clinical research.

The Retention Patch Program can now be commissioned for any pediatric study worldwide. It allows children and teenagers to collect a series of exclusive patches throughout their clinical trial experience, which can be ironed onto garments so that they can be worn like badges of honor. 

Kate Shaw, founder, and CEO of Innovative Trials said: “Clinical trials involving children are important in transforming global child health. Without pediatric studies, we would not have the polio vaccine or life-changing therapies for childhood cancers, for instance.

Innovative Trials Kate Shaw

“However, we know patient retention is a significant issue for the pharmaceutical industry with about three in 10 participants likely to drop out before a study has finished. Our new Retention Patch Program aims to overcome this challenge in pediatric clinical trials, which is especially important given that there are far fewer studies involving children than adults.” 

The company will fund the first patch – a colorful welcome patch featuring the Retention Patch Program’s dragon mascot – for all pediatric study participants, with a donation also going to the Oliver Patch Program.

This will mean that every child will receive at least one patch regardless of whether the trial sponsor has signed up for the service. Sponsors can then commission the Retention Patch Program to make further patches available to their pediatric study participants, which will be given out as retention items when they reach set milestones during the study. Only by remaining in the trial until the end can all patches be collected.

Shaw added: “We are pleased to be working with Oliver Patch Project to deliver this incredibly important initiative. By keeping children and adolescents engaged throughout their clinical trials, we can reduce drop-out rates and help ensure groundbreaking treatments reach the people who need them most as quickly as possible.

“Through this program, we also hope to build an international community of young people who are proud of their clinical trial journey as we know that those who have a positive experience are more likely to talk about it to others. This will help raise much-needed public awareness of clinical research and demystify the process so that others may be more inclined to participate in the future.”

Baby Dragon 1 RV 3

Speaking about the charity’s partnership with Innovative Trials, Brian said: “I’m thrilled that Oliver Patch Project has the opportunity to support so many more children globally through our collaboration with Innovative Trials.

“Since my wife and I founded the nonprofit, we have been flooded with messages from parents who tell us how much of a difference our patches are making to their children’s wellbeing. It’s why we created the program in the first place – we wanted to make sure children felt supported and kept hope. That they didn’t feel lonely or down. I can’t wait to reach even more families and help to bring some sunshine into their lives through the Retention Patch Program with Innovative Trials.”

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