Digital Connections Enable Continuous Dialogue
We’re in the midst of a digital health care revolution. People across the country are taking control of their health through educational online resources, social networks,and mobile health technologies. At the BIO International Convention this week, we heard first-hand examples of how this kind of “virtual care” is more than just futuristic—it can educate and empower patients.
From virtual consultations with a doctor, to chronic disease management tools, to real-time disease-risk assessment, “virtual care is a continuous dialogue in which the patient can be deeply engaged,” said Dr. Leslie Saxon, Executive Director of the University of Southern California Center on Body Computing. We see the same movement taking place in clinical research and clinical trials, which are critical components of developing new and better treatments. Prospective participants increasingly view autonomy and access to information as important elements in their experience. Fortunately, new technologies provide the information necessary for patients to decide if a trial is right for them, and allow them to gather more information than ever before.
You need look no further than your own smart phone to see this in action. Social media networks like Twitter and Facebook have not only increased the visibility of available clinical trials; they’ve also allowed patients to exchange information with others living with the same conditions, symptoms, and health care navigation issues they may face each day. These online patient communities help people become more active and empowered in their own care—and tools like Twitter enable that support to cross geographic boundaries.
Social media has even become a platform through which companies that develop new medicines, like Lilly, can hear input and questions from patients in real time. We were proud to recently co-host a trans-Atlantic tweet chat in partnership with Claire Whitehouse, lead research nurse at a hospital in the UK’s National Health Service. We asked patients, advocates, nurses, doctors, and scientists to share #WhyWeDoResearch—and we were blown away by the passion and dedication of their responses.
Looking for other opportunities to engage? You can join the conversation by following these hashtags, or one of many more that may interest you:
Another great example of this digital transformation in action: patient recruitment, which has long been a challenge in clinical trials. Today more than ever, we see an exciting opportunity to not only overcome this challenge, but to use digital tools and social media to improve the overall trial experience. We launched Lilly TrialGuide to provide general clinical trial information and educational materials, and to serve as a permanent home for transparent and comprehensive information about Lilly clinical studies. In order to make the website as patient-friendly as possible, we’ve involved patients and the public throughout design and development, from virtual focus groups to gather design and feature requirements, to user testing to understand how we could make the design more intuitive. We’re excited to create more meaningful interactions for patients considering research participation and to provide patients with access to the information they need to make the choices that are best for them.
Improving clinical trials for all works best when we involve patients in the conversation. Social and digital tools allow us to have those conversations more readily. And at the BIO Convention and beyond, we’re glad to see the digital health revolution continue to evolve.
Blog post originally appeared on LillyPad.