As specialists in communication, we believe the solution lies in placing greater emphasis on dialogue with patients. We understand the positive impact that a cogent and logical communications strategy can have. But we also recognise that although patient interests must be a priority, the needs of sponsors, contract research organisations (CROs) and researchers are equally important.
One Research’s strategy achieves change at a fundamental level by reducing workloads for clinicians and presenting them with new resources. By helping the clinical-research profession to engage effectively with patients, One Research seeks to benefit the entire healthcare community by encouraging new medicines to market faster.
Being part of the University of Sussex and specifically the Innovation Centre has given us a unique perspective on academic and commercial research. Our work brings people with a common goal together: building relationships is key to maintaining patients’ commitment to research. The collaborative environment has fostered this and informed our work from the beginning. A pilot programme in 2009 surpassed all expectations. A roll-out was scheduled across the UK for 2010, which has been successfully recruiting patients ever since.
Many recruitment programmes are established through clinic or hospital databases to identify patients who may fit a trial protocol. The driver for this is the evaluation of data. Only when the data “fit” has been established are patients approached. But contacting patients “cold” inhibits relationship building. Data, regardless of its origin, is not the only measure of likely recruitment rates. It gives no indication of a patient’s interest. Our priority was to develop a method that put the relationship first. This for us is a defining principle of patient-centricity.
A key consideration in turning principle to practice was raising awareness of research opportunities in the broader patient population outside traditional clinical environments. This prompts patients to opt in, initiates dialogue, builds trust and prepares volunteers for participation. The process is simplified for all stakeholders. Ultimately, research teams are provided with motivated and eligible participants. Sponsors can start their trials on time and on target. To date, we have successfully supported over 50 protocols.