Engaging your most important stakeholder: why care about the patient?

We are all patients at certain points in our lives. Every person who lives on planet earth requires some form of healthcare, be it basic, infrequent GP check-ups for those of us in good health, or prolonged visits to specialist wards for people who live with chronic diseases that require more thorough management. Humans suffer from communicable and non-communicable diseases, with some diagnoses being harder to deliver and live with than others. When we sit in a doctor’s office, a hospital ward or the room of a clinical trial investigator, what we see, hear and feel matters. It matters, because our interpretation of what is happening in those moments can compel us to take heed of the information being shared, be it a new diagnosis or important medical advice, or run in the opposite direction. If our practitioner is listening to our concerns without interrupting us, and we leave our local polyclinic with user-friendly, patient-centric apps and leaflets that will allow us to manage our disease better from home, we are more likely to be active participants in our own care, and the care of loved ones. Patient centric communications do not begin and end in the clinic – they take many different forms. Healthcare campaigns, clinical trial protocol design, disease awareness websites, fertility toolkits and online communities are just a handful of examples where the thoughts and feelings of patients should be considered at every stage of execution. If you’re trying to engage a patient organisation, what type of language are you using and what are you offering the organisation that will benefit their members? If you’re a sponsor trying to recruit patients from minority groups that are not trusting of the Pharmaceutical industry, how are you easing fears or lack of trust that have been present in some cultures for decades?

A give and take partnership Engaging with patients and patient organisations must be give and take in order to flourish. There is great value in hearing the perspective of people who are educated in their disease, and who are willing to offer feedback and insights into stakeholder behaviour before a study protocol or external messaging is set in stone. This is particularly true throughout the clinical trials process, where more than 80% of trials struggle with enrolment and retention. Often, enrolment issues arise in ways that surprise health-literate professionals. Using technical language in online patient materials or including a confusing medication question in your pre-screener questionnaire may be the crux of your recruitment woes, and something a sponsor may not realise without listening to the perspective of the people they’re trying to enrol.

The nuances of the patient

Deciding to take part in a clinical trial can be an incredibly daunting experience. For people who rely on a clinical trial as a large part of their care, participating can be even more nerve wracking. Most people do not know what a clinical trial is, and sponsor companies must be cognizant of this when communicating research opportunities. There are also significant misconceptions surrounding clinical research, which suffers from a poor public image depending on the therapeutic area and the location(s) of the study. Depending on where you are in the world, Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers might be clinical trial mavens, given the lack of effective medication for the disease and the many attempts at finding one, or unknowledgeable and afraid due to low disease awareness in the region of the study. Chronic pain patients are desperate for effective relief but cannot tolerate frequent study visits or invasive assessments that would exacerbate their painful symptoms. There are nuances to every type of person and their disease, and there is great value for both parties to reap when the patient needs are addressed from the very beginning.

We can help - get in touch

At Spurwing, we are experts in healthcare and passionate believers in patient-centricity. Get in touch with us to learn how we can assist you in engaging your patient audiences and building your reputation amongst the people that matter.

Reach out to us at team@spurwingcomms.com

Recent Posts