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How to Engage and Retain Patients in Clinical Trials

When it comes to clinical trials, the stakes are high. It can take 10 to 15 years or longer to complete all 3 phases before licensing, and global spend on trials is expected to reach nearly $69 billion by 2025. It’s no secret that patient drop-out is among the leading causes for delays in timeline and a huge expense. On average, 30% of patients drop out of clinical trials, and the cost to replace a lost patient averages $19,533. The costs associated with lost data, time, and resources are even higher.

Retaining patients throughout clinical trials requires a patient-centric approach. By analyzing patient preferences and ensuring these preferences are an integral part of your engagement strategy, you can increase patient retention at scale. In order to understand how to retain patients, we need to take a closer look at why they leave. The biggest culprits are often related to lack of communication and clarity. Often when patients don’t understand their role, are confused about the trial or process, or are anxious about what to expect during each stage of the trial journey, they’re at a higher risk for dropping out. Unfortunately, patients often feel like subjects rather than an integral part of the research team. Engaging patients by keeping them informed and involved throughout the trial is essential, in addition to communicating with them in the ways they prefer. 

The question is: how do people prefer to engage today?

Borrowing from the Best

By borrowing inspiration from the world’s leading digital brands, we can adopt engagement trends and preferences with a proven success record. Amazon leverages browsing and purchasing data to offer personalized recommendations unique to each member. Social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow consumers to connect and share their interests and thoughts online. Streaming platforms like Netflix offer thousands of TV shows and movies personalized to each subscriber’s viewing habits. By implementing a tailored, digital approach to engagement, we can meet patients where they are and engage them in the ways they prefer.

In a perception and insights study conducted by CISCRP, clinical trial participants were surveyed to uncover clinical trial preferences. Participants were asked how helpful technology was throughout the clinical trial. These were the top 3 identified as most helpful: 

  1. Text Messaging 
  1. Video conferencing as an option to meet with the study doctor 
  1. Smartphone apps for study data collection and support services

This study highlights the need to interact with and engage patients digitally. Digital communication enables researchers to scale their time and to collect data more efficiently. Using SMS texting to provide patients with timely reminders, check-ins, and updates helps hold patients accountable and encourages them to adhere to the study’s regime, while staying updated on their progress.

mPulse Mobile leverages conversation AI and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to send tailored text messages designed to engage and motivate patients over time. Our conversations are empathic, inclusive and multilingual to equitable health engagement, and incorporate behavioral science techniques to empower patients to act. In addition to SMS, we offer IVR and email communication channels. By understanding your patient population, we can further enhance and tailor conversations to feel highly relevant and deliver the right support and information throughout the clinical trial.

In the same perception and insights study conducted by CISCRP, clinical trial participants were asked, “If you were to participate in a clinical research study, how important are the following to your participation?” The top 5 areas participants ranked as most important: 

  1. Being provided with supporting information on managing my health condition in general  
  1. Being provided with supporting information on the clinical research study 
  1. Being provided the opportunity to complete a satisfaction survey on your clinical research study experience to provide feedback 
  1. Supportive Services 
  1. Availability of mobile applications

Providing an online destination for patients to access information about their condition and the study, connect with other patients, complete surveys and questionnaires, ask questions and receive additional support ticks all the boxes.

mPulse Mobile curates white-labeled learning destinations customized to each patient. We partner with leading health organizations to curate cinematic health content designed to build self-efficacy. Content features a variety of expert-led videos, animations, polls, assessments and surveys, discussion boards, resources, and custom calls-to-action. Patients can complete daily diaries, learn more about their condition, and engage with the research team in a single destination. All data is captured on the back end and is available via a real-time dashboard with EDC integration options. Our learning destinations have an average 70-minute engagement time per patient per session and are proven to sustain engagement over time.

mPulse can link patients directly to videos, polls, or diary logs within the learning destination to provide a seamless UX to education, support, and activities. In addition to learning destinations, mPulse offers short-form content that can be sent via email or SMS with customizable CTAs.

Industry -Leading Health Engagement 

mPulse Mobile is transforming digital engagement for healthcare’s leading organizations through proven solutions that combine conversational AI with integrated streaming content.  

Trusted by 200+ health organizations to personalize over 1 billion conversations annually, mPulse Mobile’s innovative technology and engagement strategy deliver business efficiencies, improve health outcomes, and inspire a more equitable, healthier world, one person at a time. 

 To discover how mPusle can transform your patient retention strategy, contact us. 


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