Patient-led Clinical Trials

May 8, 2017 - May 9, 2017, London

Where patients and pharma join forces to deliver empowered trials

Connecting with Patients via Compelling Content

Robert Kroes and Elizabeth Mascherino discuss the newly-launched Lilly TrialGuide and what makes it unique.

Lilly has just launched a patient-facing website that aims to not only increase participation in clinical trials but also enhance general knowledge and literacy in the area of clinical research. Lilly TrialGuide will be used by the company to recruit patients for trials while endeavoring to educate the wider public about the importance of clinical research.

The website contains details on current Lilly trials and the aim is to do so in a patient-friendly fashion, without relying on overly scientific language, explains Robert Kroes, Clinical Innovation Consultant.

“The website features videos with patients explaining their personal motivation for participating in clinical research, as well as a listing of all Lilly clinical trials.We have decided to present much of the information in a graphical fashion – we believe that will make it easier for a patient to decide on their potential participation in a clinical trial,” Kroes outlines.

Elizabeth Mascherino, Clinical Innovation Advisor, says the site’s library of educational content will “not just be text on a page – we want them to be dynamic and interactive and diverse, so we have added videos and we are working on infographics and other visual tools”.

Mascherino explains that Lilly TrialGuide is so-called as the company felt that transparency has become an increasingly important aspect of their engagement with patients.

“Traditionally, we have not branded our patient recruitment websites but it was critical to us that this site be branded and with that comes the responsibility to be transparent about who we are and why we feel this work is so important,” she tells eyeforpharma.

A permanent resource

Previously, Lilly would build study-specific websites which would be launched at the beginning of enrolment for a trial but eventually deleted once that trial’s enrollment goals were met, adds Mascherino.

Other companies have patient-friendly websites, but what differentiates this is that we are really focusing on the entire clinical trials experience, not just our clinical trials. This is what sets us apart from everybody else.

“Conversely, the Lilly trial guide is a permanent resource which will allow us to have a more ongoing connection with patients around research.”

Kroes acknowledges that while the concept of being more patient-centric is not necessarily unique, the Lilly TrialGuide differentiates itself by virtue of its mission to educate anyone and everyone on what a clinical trial really entails.

“What makes this different from everything else is the fact that it’s not just about raising awareness on a specific clinical trial, it has multiple aspects; it is raising awareness of clinical research and really informing patients. We also have the added content, such as the aforementioned documentary on the motivation of patients entering clinical research. Other companies have patient-friendly websites, but what differentiates this is that we are really focusing on the entire clinical trials experience, not just our clinical trials. This is what sets us apart from everybody else,” he says.

Mascherino echoes this, saying their focus and long-term commitment will remain on providing engaging content. It is well-known that there is a lack of general knowledge around clinical research, hence a goal of the site is to develop “compelling, dynamic educational content” that will draw people to the site where they can learn more about the actual process of a trial and what it involves.

“In terms of a patient finding and engaging with one of our studies, it is a very positive patient experience that I am not sure you’ll find on other sites – we have taken extra steps to make it easier for a patient to engage with our studies.”

Call to action

Indeed, the key objective of Lilly TrialGuide is to connect patients with relevant Lilly clinical trials, by making it as easy as possible for a potential participant to find the right trial for them, Mascherino advises.

“The site will eventually house all of our ongoing studies and will be a resource where patients can easily find a trial that is relevant for them – they will have the ability to search by medical condition and/or postal code so that they can find an investigative site that is in close proximity to them. And also our trial listings have a very strong call to action; it was really critical for us that not only do we present the study details in a very patient-centric way, but that we also make it very clear on how a patient can take the next step if they are interested in learning more about the study.”

While Mascherino and Kroes admit that the concept has been in gestation for many years, the recent wider push across industry, as well as Lilly’s own efforts, to achieve patient centricity in the clinical trials space meant that Lilly TrialGuide became a reality in the past 18 months.

“Recently, Lilly has put a lot of emphasis, through our Next Generation Development initiative, on making clinical trials more accessible to patients and with that initiative, we were able to gain support and momentum to make the Lilly Trial Guide a reality,” explains Mascherino.

The concept started in the summer of 2014, and the project truly kicked off in the first quarter of 2015, with the site going live in September of 2015.

The site is still in its infancy but new trials are being added weekly – Mascherino estimates that by the end of the first quarter of 2016, details of 50 Lilly trials will be available on the site.

Thousands of visitors have already stopped by the site, hungry for knowledge about clinical trials; Mascherino says that the section “Understanding clinical trials” is the most visited page on the site.

A content marketing pilot (a campaign around the promotion of a clinical trial documentary on the site) proved very successful, bringing several hundred visitors within a few days. 

Long-term communication

The driver for the Lilly team behind the site is the option of long-term continued communication to their patients. In this regard, Mascherino explains that the fruits of their labor will not be seen overnight. The next step for the team behind the Lilly TrialGuide is to build a multichannel engagement plan – Mascherino explains that while this will include paid advertisements, the site’s engaging content and presence across social media channels will work to drive traffic to the site.

“We are very much committed to evolving the approach to patient recruitment because we believe that, in the long term, this is how we will speed our research enrollment, by creating a model that is less reliant on paid media and more on earned placement so that we can get more visitors and more awareness around our trials,” she asserts.

“Our strategy here is to see if we can promote the content and if the content compels people, then they may navigate to our library of trials to see if there’s one relevant for them. This is very much a learning exercise for us still. Without any individual study promotion, we have managed to have 118 visitors to our 13 study pages. I feel confident that once we start executing on a more thoughtful strategy in 2016, our numbers will grow significantly; we have managed to obtain that without any promotional effort at all.”

Looking to the future

Unsurprisingly, with such a patient-focused approach to the Lilly TrialGuide, patient feedback will inform the evolution of the site.

“We have started engaging some patients to give us feedback and we will continue to do that; we have introduced the website to some of our investigator sites and will begin soliciting feedback. This project is dynamic enough in order to be able to make changes based on that feedback,” Mascherino says.

While the site is currently available in English only, Lilly are cognizant of their global audience and Mascherino says that this will soon change as the site grows.

“Our promotional efforts will be focused in the US in the near term but as part of our globalization plan, we will be building country-specific versions of Lilly TrialGuide, which will allow us to take in cultural relevance, local regulatory guidelines and language.”

Lilly have built an impressive site, and now the focus turns to spreading the word about it.

Robert Kroes will be speaking at Clinical Excellence Europe 2016, 14-15 June.

Read more about Lilly's approach in our latest clinical whitepaper "Advancing Patient Recruitment & Engagement in Clinical Trials".


Patient-led Clinical Trials

May 8, 2017 - May 9, 2017, London

Where patients and pharma join forces to deliver empowered trials