While the snow and freezing rain fell outside the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, NJ, attendees of this workshop at the recently held 2015 eCOA Forum brainstormed ideas on the use of eCOA to help reduce patient burden while at the same time increasing patient engagement. The workshop began with describing the general benefits of eCOA that transcend all therapeutic areas before the conversation quickly turned to specific areas such as COPD, Oncology, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Overactive Bladder and Alzheimer’s Disease; areas that have specific challenges due to the heavy burden they place on their patients.
A novel way to see how technology could be used in a patient-centric way in clinical trials was to use empathy maps: to really put ourselves in the patient’s shoes. Participants were grouped into teams to take on the role of a patient persona with a specific condition and envision the details of their lives. Having identified the patient’s age, background and level of condition, teammates discussed the patient’s hopes and fears about participating in a clinical trial, including what might influence the patient, the pains and challenges they may face and the effect of their environment.
The empathy map exercise covered a varying range of patients, from Jane, a rheumatoid arthritis patient, and Billy, the 6-year old with an overactive bladder, to the heart-breaking story of Steve and his wife who have three young children and are suffering from prostate and breast cancer respectively.
The exercise took participants on an emotional journey that really helped to identify the challenges of the different diseases and how they affect participating in a clinical trial. Having thought about the implications of the different indications, the teams quickly began listing ways technology could help, from a button on an OAB diary home screen to tap for discreetly recording when Billy is having an event, to how body maps, alerts, and a conmed collection tool would reduce the burden on Jane, our rheumatoid arthritis patient.
The workshop session helped us all to think about what a patient in a clinical trial goes through and the ways that using technology can help to reduce burden, increase patient engagement and retention and improve data quality, resulting in a benefit for all stakeholders involved. Participants were able to offer a unique viewpoint on areas they don’t necessarily specialize in and many credited the exercise with helping them to think outside the box from a patient's perspective.