Have you ever experienced remarkable customer service – someone really going above and beyond to provide a remarkable experience to you or your family?
During the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve seen heroic efforts by frontline healthcare professionals to care for patients in need, and round-the-clock working by scientists and regulators to create, test and approve vaccines and treatments.
We’re on a mission to deliver remarkable patient experiences with digitally enabled, personalised services. We want to help Pharma companies and CROs go above and beyond for their patients, ultimately delivering clinical trial excellence.
Here’s our perspective on what it takes to deliver remarkable patient experiences to clinical trial participants.
Putting patients first
mdgroup has been putting patients first for over two decades, and these efforts have led us to be at the forefront when it comes to decentralised clinical research.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the complexities of the patient journey is paramount to advancing medicine, and exploring digital technology solutions which enable better trial outcomes has never been more important.
There’s a lot of noise around digital technology in the clinical research marketplace, therefore it’s critical we understand which solutions will actually help patients on their particular and very personal journeys.
Think about a time when you received remarkable service. When a person went above and beyond for you or your family. How did that make you feel? Valued? Safe? Supported? Able to trust?
In all areas of our lives, we seek out remarkable. We look to do business with, and buy from, organisations that we put our trust in, that will go above and beyond for us. It makes us feel that we’ve got a support network, that we’re not alone, and we’re less fearful of things we don’t understand or that might go wrong. That’s the core at the end of the mdgroup mission.
We’ve learnt that designing remarkable for all of our products improves patient recruitment, engagement, retention, and crucially outcomes – the four key metrics of a successful clinical trial.
Navigating patient journeys
The patient journey has many complexities. It’s our responsibility as an organisation, along with healthcare providers and trial sponsors, to really understand the nuances within different journeys.
It all starts with getting to know patients genuinely and authentically, on a one-to-one level. We do this by understanding, amongst other things, patient communication preferences and personality types – little nuances that could be the defining factor in getting a patient across the clinical finish line.
‘Journey mapping’ in itself isn’t a new concept, doing this on an individual basis takes time and effort. To deploy the amount of resources necessary for this, you have to build a remarkable team. We’ve done that at mdgroup, and have people whose sole mission is to understand each patient’s individual journey, inside out.
Of course, we can make some generalisations about the patient journey. However, it’s about understanding the outliers that might happen, identifying where we can deploy resources for potential service recovery, and putting safety nets in place that ensure our patients feel looked after at every stage of their clinical journey.
Using technology to deliver remarkable patient experiences
We’re committed to advancing the technology used in clinical trials to give patients the most seamless experience when it comes to appointments, travel, expense reimbursement and more.
We look at technologies today that have been used in other industries and ask how they might be applied to clinical trials and patient care. We’re always asking – how can we make things better?
For example, how can we improve chances that a team member from mdgroup connects quicker and more effectively with a patient that needs support? That speed of connection and response enabled by technology is vital in providing 24/7, easy to access care.
Crucially, all technology must enable better patient outcomes. Therefore, focusing on how we build our technology is important – that’s where our patient services and digital teams come together.
Often patients prefer not to use the digital solutions we think might be helpful to them. In these cases we innovate, providing alternative solutions to support them. Finding ways to communicate with patients wherever they are on the digital spectrum is essential in ensuring better trial outcomes.
Using data to improve the patient experience
Technology also enables us to gather and analyse data in a way that’s readily available and usable to all stakeholders, and helps them in achieving their objectives.
At every turn though, we must ask:
- Is this technology helping us reach our goals?
- Is it building a barrier?
- Will patients use it, or is it just a shiny new object sitting on the sidelines?
- Does it help the clinical trial reach its endpoint?
Asking these hard questions as early as possible matters, as does empowering patient feedback around technology. This is more than a commitment, it has to be facilitated by investment.
And technology today is making clinical trials, particularly DCTs, easier than ever, interoperable systems must work together. Otherwise, they cause bottlenecks within different protocols and impact clinical outputs.
Empathy and relationships
Our team members are formally trained in all aspects of the patient experience, including the language of empathy. Genuinely connecting with people and putting them first is an art form – and it’s vital for building authentic relationships.
It sounds simple, but it’s much harder to execute. A patient is part of a clinical trial, yet the reality is their lives are much more than that. The faster we can identify issues and deploy resources to help them on their journey, the faster we build respect and trust. That makes an authentic relationship last.
Listening and learning is also a vital part of relationship building. We all know that patient feedback matters, but feedback only makes an impact if you learn from it. At mdgroup, we ensure we’re nimble enough to take patient feedback and make changes in real time.
Involving patients in design
The key to a remarkable patient experience is having a patient-first mindset, always. This needs to start at the top with executive leadership and travel all the way down to the front lines, so patients are put first long before they’re enrolled in a clinical trial.
Including patients when building solutions is at the forefront of all our innovations. If you have an idea and you’re whiteboarding it out in the boardroom, and you haven’t brought patients into building that solution and getting their feedback, you could be wasting a lot of time.
We’ve learnt that listening to patients as early as possible in the design process, inviting them to be part of the solution, is invaluable.
A new normal
Post-COVID there has been a boom in decentralized clinical research. There’s a new normal being established when it comes to clinical trial protocols, and we’re not sure how that’s going to play out in the immediate future.
What we do know is that the pandemic has challenged us to look at the entire ecosystem in a new way. We have expanded our technology and home health services to give patients more flexibility and control, and as a result we are feeling optimistic about the future.