February 01, 2017 | Rodion Stolyar

Rx needs CX: Why pharmaceutical companies should be thinking about customer experience


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Clinical trials are essential to the development and regulatory approval of new, life-saving medicines, and thus they are essential to pharmaceutical companies’ success. Trials require recruiting a predetermined number of participants who complete all stages of the trial, but compelling those people to complete it can be a challenge due to a number of factors.

There is, however, something that can change the tide for pharma companies hoping to  improve participation rates. Those that develop, execute, and measure the customer experience (aka patient or participant experience) can boost participation in clinical trials — and even help improve the bottom line.

Improve completion rates & offset costs

A whopping 85% of clinical trials fail to retain enough patients throughout the study, and the average dropout rate across all clinical trials is 30%. Without an adequate number of participants in a clinical trial, a new drug or therapy may not generate enough data points to support its continued testing —  causing delays to the go-to-market strategy, or worse, cancelling it all together.

Additionally, the costs of new drug development are increasing every year due to a variety of factors such as new regulations aimed at improving participant safety, rapidly inflating healthcare costs, and the strained relationship between participants and staff that are tasked with administering trials. In order to alleviate some of the burdens that sponsors face with the clinical trial process, sponsors should borrow some of the tools and capabilities that leaders in customer experience (CX) can provide to decrease the dropout rate plaguing clinical trials.

Enlist the right CX tools

So you know why pharma companies should focus on CX, but how you go about doing this is every bit as important. A good CX strategy requires a robust set of tools that allow you to measure the whole experience of a participant, as well as the ability to provide insights that can accurately predict the likelihood of a desired future behavior. Put another way, these analytics will provide you with how likely participants are to behave the way you’d intended. If completion is the intended goal, then you’ll need to examine all the elements involved leading up to completion.

For example, a clinical research study sees a major drop in participant completion after the rollout of their redesigned website as well as a new email messaging system. Measuring the patient experience using a trusted CX Intelligence solution, such as ForeSee, could help identify which of those changes might have affected completion rates, as well as provide insights on what would have the biggest impact to correct that behavior.

CX Analytics: How and where to focus efforts

According to Forte Research Systems, 18% (or almost 1 in 5) clinical trial participants, drop out. In a survey of clinical trial participants, 20% said their relationship with the study staff is critical to their motivation to continue. But some of the reasons given for participants dropping out aren’t controllable by a trial study’s staff, such as financial constraints, a drug or treatment’s side effects, and a static condition. The good news is that there are a number of factors that study staff have the power to influence, including the ease of scheduling visits, clarity of expectations, and the level of appreciation for participants. Understanding these important aspects — and others — of the participant experience are key to being able to predict and positively influence clinical trial efficacy rates.

That said, pharma companies can benefit enormously from understanding and improving the aspects of the clinical trial experience that are most impactful to increasing completion rates.


Advanced CX measurements give us the  power to consider all of these factors, and weight them in terms of their importance to participants. Once you understand what motivates participants to complete a trial or drop out prematurely, you can address both and stimulate higher retention rates. Higher retention rates will lead to studies being completed on time more often, and with reduced costs stemming from recruiting and enrolling fewer participants.

Both of these outcomes will enable study sponsors to bring life-saving medicines and therapies to market, ultimately saving lives and lowering the barriers for new drug development. In addition, reducing the barriers to new drug development could potentially stimulate the development of even more life-saving medicines and therapies in the future.

Want to learn more about how ForeSee can help improve the CX strategy for healthcare companies? Check out additional healthcare CX insights on our blog.

Categories: Healthcare


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