Praxis on nurturing the patient journey making people feel seen and heard

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Clinical trial Clinical research trial transparency Patient centricity Research

Clinical Trials Day is organized and promoted by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) for the last ten years.

The association says the day (May 20) is a ‘joyful opportunity to pause in reflection, recognition, and admiration of all that has been accomplished thanks to clinical trials and the people behind them’.

OSP had plenty of questions to put to Karen Grobe, senior vice president, managing director and Karen Renzi, vice president, strategy both at Praxis about what is going on in the clinical trial arena.

Rising Awareness: What do you attribute to the rising awareness of clinical trials among the general public and within the healthcare industry?

COVID really put healthcare, and specifically clinical research, front and center for the general public in a way we hadn’t ever seen. Clinical trials became a topic more familiar to a broader audience, and therefore more accessible. 

We’ve also seen a shift among many top pharmas to invest in general clinical trial awareness, both through industry partnership efforts and for their own individual trial portfolios. We’re starting to see some of the internal silos break down that may have previously focused attention and budgets on study-by-study recruitment only, shifting to a broader understanding of the value of nurturing the patient journey earlier through awareness efforts, ultimately seeking to match a patient with the trial that may be right for them.

Industry Progress: How has the clinical trials industry evolved over the past few years, particularly in terms of patient recruitment and retention?

Similar to what we noted above, we’re starting to see more recognition of looking at the patient journey in a clinical trial along a longer spectrum – starting with generating clinical trial awareness and interest, then guiding the patient into a study that may be right for them. While there is still room to grow, it feels encouraging to see consideration of the patient experience beyond transactional recruitment into a trial.

Several of the sponsors we work with are more actively incorporating patient input earlier in clinical development, to inform trial design and highlight stages of the enrollment and engagement journey where patients can benefit from extra support. 

Praxis’s Role: As a leader in patient recruitment, how has Praxis contributed to these advancements and the overall growth of the clinical trials industry?

Building connections is at the heart of what Praxis does everyday, and more than anything we seek to support the patient journey in clinical trials. Praxis supports our sponsors’ efforts to incorporate patients in trial design and planning through both primary and secondary research to uncover patient insights – leveraging social listening, online surveys, and/or in-depth interviews. We also craft our integrated awareness and recruitment campaigns with a keen understanding of how to meet the patient where they are in their journey, implementing the right tactics at the right time. We look to patient insights, specific to the protocol design when available, to design creative and messaging that will resonate and also provide the information patients need and want – often incorporating video as a medium. 

Patient-Centric Approaches: Patient -perspective - why is it crucial to approach every clinical trial from the perspective of the patient?

Every patient is unique, and so is their journey with their health and the decisions they make around their care. Putting the patient first and prioritizing a deep understanding of their experience with their condition, and the impact that trial participation could have on their daily life allows us to develop strategies and provide resources that help address their unmet needs and provide the information they need to feel empowered to make informed decisions about their healthcare. By always considering the patient perspective, we are able to not only successfully guide patients to clinical trials that may be an option for them, but also support them throughout trial participation.

Can you provide examples of how Praxis integrates patient feedback into the design and execution of clinical trials?

While Praxis is not responsible for the actual design of clinical trials, we do use qualitative and quantitative research to gain key patient insights and data that allow us to understand what might influence patient participation in a clinical trial. 

Recently, we surveyed more than 100 rare disease patients to understand how they feel about current treatment options, identify factors that might influence their decision to participate in research, and explore the connection between preferences, motivators, and treatment experience that might impact the likelihood of exploring clinical research as an option. As a result of this survey we were able to build patient profiles and identify key findings to address/consider related to interest in clinical research, protocol optimization, and long-term patient engagement.

Additionally, Praxis uses patient insights gleaned from social listening to develop all of our creative messaging. Seeing how patients talk about their condition, in their own words, ensures that everything we do is rooted in what their experience truly is, not what we think it is. 

Enhancing Patient Experience:  What strategies does Praxis employ to ensure a positive and engaging experience for trial participants?

First and foremost we want patients to feel seen and heard. As patients receive our messaging for the first time and begin their journey to clinical trial participation, we want them to feel supported and know their story matters, because it does. We do this by developing engaging materials that connect with the patient experience and answer any questions that they may have when it comes to trial participation. 

We also work directly with participating research sites to ensure that they have what they need to support patients as they consider and enroll in clinical trials. By prioritizing both the research site staff and the patients, we hope to provide a cohesive, positive experience for all involved. 

Patient Recruitment Innovations: What innovative methods or technologies does Praxis use to recruit patients for clinical trials?

Praxis takes a scientific approach to the art of patient recruitment. We leverage more than 15 years of historic campaign data to inform our campaigns, and we have a deep understanding of the different approaches we may need to implement to reach each unique patient population. Our team has the experience needed to pull together the most targeted mix of paid media tactics, specialized recruitment partners, patient advocacy groups, and professional groups for each study or program. Our analytics team digs into the data to ensure effective optimization for successful campaigns, and as campaigns are executed, we fine tune projections to work hand-in-hand with our sponsors towards their enrollment goals.

How do these methods improve recruitment efficiency and patient diversity in trials?

Data-driven insights are the best way to optimize for greatest efficiency and to plan towards specific objectives such as meeting patient diversity targets. With a clear understanding of objectives at the start of a campaign, we align on KPIs and track results accurately, optimizing as needed.

Specific Therapeutic Areas and Case Studies: How do recruitment strategies differ across various therapeutic areas?

Every therapeutic area has its own challenges and rewards, but two that we would highlight would be rare disease and pediatric studies. These two areas both require highly unique and customized approaches to develop both a materials strategy for enrollment and retention, and an effective integrated recruitment campaign.

Future of Clinical Trials: Clinical Trials Day - this year's clinical trials day theme is ‘trailblazers among us.’ How does this theme resonate with the work Praxis is doing?

We really love this year’s theme as we believe that everyone who participates in clinical research is a trailblazer. From patients to research site staff, from trial sponsors to the partners we work with, we are all dedicated to bringing new treatment options to the people who need them most. We all have the ability to influence the future of medicine and that is what keeps us motivated to do this work.

How did the Praxis team celebrate Clinical Trials Day, and what reflections or insights were shared during the celebration?

We took some time to have lunch as a team and reflect on all the advances that have been made since the first clinical trial launched in 1747, while also recognizing all that we have left to do. In so many ways we have come so far, but there is also a lot of work to be done to ensure that everyone has access to the care options they need to make informed healthcare decisions that could improve their quality of life. We left feeling proud of the work that has been done and inspired to keep working hard to bring new treatment options to those who need it most. 

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