Retail patient engagement for better late-phase clinical trials

Sheila Patel, Vice President of Business Technology at Capgemini Invent and Richard Marcil, CCO at conversationHEALTH

The era of blockbuster drugs that provide benefit to the general population is dwindling. In the era of blockbuster drugs, clinical research culminated in a phase 3 trial. Today, there are an increasing number of phase 4 trials focusing on specific populations to quantify efficacy. But with the rise of phase 4 clinical trials, are life sciences companies preparing?

Two outsized challenges in clinical trials are recruitment and retention, and intermediaries such as retail pharmacies may well have an advantages over traditional research centers on both fronts. Why? Pharmacies have existing, recurring, long-term interactions with patients, and pharmacists often have established relationships with their patients. Of course, pharmacies are conveniently located and are already part of a patients’ sphere of current activities, whereas many research centers have less convenient or easily accessed locations.

This speaks to an opportunistic and potential shift to recruiting patients from pharmacy retailers, who are adept at building customer loyalty and driving interactions. This has also moved from the physical to digital, with most retailers having extensive digital capabilities for “push” engagements and promotion. Many are now developing “pull” and asynchronous tools like chatbots and conversational AI, for 24/7/365 support but also to deploy increasingly sophisticated patient support programming. Lastly, pharmacy retailers’ can directly access a diverse population of cohorts, including: race, gender, socioeconomic and comorbidities, which are often the focus of late Phase 3 or Phase 4 trials.

In short, life sciences companies — including CROs — should look to mimic the convenience of pharmacies or partner with them. This is a triple-win opportunity, i.e. faster more diverse trials, better insights on outcomes, and better business for all. This also fits the narrative of decentralized trials, aimed at collecting more data faster, from physical engagement, digital engagement, sensors and devices. Exciting partnerships ahead.

To learn more about our digital solutions to engage HCPs, patients and consumers, book a meeting with conversationHEALTH & Capgemini today.