Are Patient Travel Services Right for Your Clinical Trial?

The patient experience of traveling to clinical research sites, no matter the indication, can often be burdensome and time consuming. A variety of reasons can account for this experience, including lack of reliable transportation, associated travel costs or any possible physical obstacles the patient may face. Of all these concerns, though, one thing is certain: patient travel is proving prohibitive to clinical trial patient enrollment and engagement.

A survey conducted by ClinicalConnection shows that distance from a trial has a major effect on whether a patient will participate in a study. Of the 3,500 respondents to the survey, 49% said they would not participate in a trial, with 23% of those respondents claiming the distance between the site and their home or work as a main reason for their decision not to join.

A separate report in Applied Clinical Trials shows that 30% of patients taking part in Phase III clinical studies drop out; high travel costs are a major contributing factor.

To help ease the travel burdens for clinical research participants, the clinical research industry is placing greater interest in patient travel programs. Sponsors, especially, are choosing to implement full travel programs or specific services as part of their studies to help patients more easily and efficiently make the trip to and from the clinical research site. By taking these measures, sponsors hope to see improved patient satisfaction with the clinical research process and, ultimately, a steady increase in trial retention rates.

Positive Impact of Travel Services for Patients

Travel assistance has a significant positive effect on whether a patient will participate in a study. In the previously mentioned ClinicalConnection survey, of the 51% of respondents who said they would consider participating in a clinical trial, 43% cited the availability of travel assistance as a deciding factor. Of the respondents who had previously participated in a trial, 40% of those who rated their experience from moderate to poor stated that travel assistance would have provided a more positive experience.

In a recent ClinEdge webinar poll, 83% of respondents said that patient travel has affected retention in their trials. Retention rates improve for studies when travel services are implemented. In particular, trials for patients with rare diseases, or trials that are attempting to reach patients across a wide geographic area are able to see an increase in patient retention for their studies.

With the statistics above in mind, it appears patients are more likely to participate in and complete a study when they have reliable transportation to and from their study visits and can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses acquired as a result of traveling.

Patient Travel Needs and How They are Met

One way to help patients comfortably get to site visits is to work with a travel service provider. These companies rs coordinate any and all transportation, including airfare, rail and ground transportation on behalf of patients. They also coordinate hotel stays and special accommodations for patients and their caregivers, when applicable. By obtaining access to the study protocols, travel service providers are able to anticipate patient travel needs based on the visit schedules outlined within, providing a form of clinical literacy that can prove invaluable to sponsors, patients and sites. These personalized patient travel itineraries can help make patients feel more comfortable and reduce the burden on staff.

Choosing a Travel Service Provider

When searching for a travel service provider for your study, be sure to find an organization that is experienced in clinical research patient travel. Travel service providers without this experience may have a more difficult time assisting a client with protocol adherence or determining sponsor payment coverage than one with a clinical research background. They may also not understand the complex relationships and careful communication that needs to be maintained between the sites and sponsors.

A clinical trial-specific provider sets itself apart due to its background and knowledge in clinical research, protocol experience and ability to assist with regulatory and compliance concerns. These providers are a strategic choice for large-scale studies that cover various geographies or niche patient populations and can provide insights into occurrences such as adverse events (AE) and serious adverse events (SAE) and how to assist patients in reporting them, whether they occur during travel or if a patient mentions them in transit. All of these small aspects and more between the travel service provider, patient, site and sponsor work together to ensure efficiency throughout a study.

About ClinEdge: ClinEdge is a comprehensive company providing services to sites and sponsors across the globe in the areas of business development, patient recruitment, patient travel, staffing, and more. Our mission is to facilitate every stage of the clinical trial process, from site selection, to staff support, to patient engagement. We believe in a shared vision of positively transforming the clinical research industry with our clients, partners, and personnel. We continue to manage our business around the evolving needs of our clients and are always looking to deepen our partnerships with candid, consistent communication.