Red chairs in a waiting area.

Contract research organization (CROs) executives reveal top patient retention challenges & strategies

By Victoria Sambursky, Edominance

According to a recent study published by Facts and Factors, the demand analysis of the global contract research organization (CRO) market size and share revenue is estimated to grow by about 65.5 billion by 2028. In the U.S. alone, the healthcare contract research organizations services market was valued at 43 million in 2019 and is projected to reach over 87 million in 2027. It is also expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.5 percent from 2020 to 2027.

However, like any other niche organization, CROs have their own industry-related challenges. The truth is, even with the high demand for their services, today’s CRO executives still struggle with questions like, “Do they have the right tools and strategies to address their most pressing issues, such as patient retention?” Below, we gain deep insight into these pain points by speaking with CRO executives in different therapeutic areas. Join us as they share their thoughts on the top issues facing CROs today and offer advice on potential strategies and solutions moving ahead.

A Deep Dive Into Patient Retention Challenges, Strategies & Solutions

CROs understand that a solid reputation continues to bring them more sponsors and revenue. And part of this reputation is the ability to retain patients during each clinical trial phase. So what are some of the most significant pain points regarding patient retention? How vital is the relationship between clinical research coordinators and patients? And what strategies do CROs utilize to help maintain high retention levels? Endominance asked three CRO executives their thoughts on these crucial topics.

Brad Hightower of Hightower Clinical
Endominance first spoke with Brad Hightower, CEO of Hightower Clinical and host of Note to File, a podcast for clinical research sites. When asked about his thoughts on patient retention challenges, Hightower offers, “We often simply ask too much of patients and do not reimburse them enough. Clinical trial participation may require taking time off of work, finding childcare, driving across town, and spending hours on site. The standard fee per visit stipends that sponsors offer will simply not offset the time and effort to keep patients retained and engaged in a trial.” We also asked Hightower about how he feels the relationship between a clinical research coordinator (CRC) and the patient can affect retention rates. He states, “The relationship between CRC and patient is one of the most important reasons patients enroll and stay in trials. CRCs are (or should be) giving a high level of attention to their clinical trial participants and are, in many ways, another level of support for patients in their healthcare journey. We have to give patients a reason to want to participate in clinical trials, and in so many cases, this is achieved by building a relationship between CRC and clinical trial participants.”

Hightower also shares his views on current tech retention solutions (i.e., AI tools such as video monitoring and wearables) and if these tools are hitting the mark regarding patient engagement and retention. He reveals, “Frankly, I think the success of the currently available tech solutions is overexaggerated at this point. I have yet to see any widely used tech that is moving the needle in terms of patient engagement.” When asked his thoughts on how clinical trial sites can achieve better patient retention, Hightower suggests, “I believe the most successful patient recruitment and retention strategies will continue to be those that focus on the human connection. As long as technology can find ways to build this bridge better, rather than try to replace it, there is hope that tech solutions can drive progress.” Read more …