Tools for Improving Success in Oncology Trials

By Michelle Marlborough, Chief Product Officer

Approximately 17 million people globally are diagnosed with some form of cancer each year. Clinical studies seeking to develop new cancer therapies represent a large portion of all clinical research as sponsors and academics work to discover cures and methods for prolonging and improving the lives of patients. Unfortunately, oncology drugs suffer from a very low success rate in clinical trials – 3.4%. 

While there are many reasons why an oncology trial could fail, patients’ treatment plan compliance is a critical factor. Cancer therapies have historically been administered in the clinic via an IV with direct oversight from a clinician and/or nurse and, for this reason, medication adherence has never been a major concern. Advances in treatment are seeing many new oral therapies being developed and these therapies rely on the patient being able to stay on top of their dosing outside of the clinic. These oncology patients are typically very sick and are usually dealing with multiple symptoms such as fatigue and pain. These symptoms, combined with the demands of participating in a clinical trial, can make it difficult for patients to stay on track, resulting in less than optimal treatment compliance. By providing patients with tools that make it easier for patients to manage their care regimens, we can make a significant difference in adherence and, ultimately, trial success.   

Technology – A Partner in the Patient’s Pocket

Technology can play an important role in simplifying participation in a clinical trial. Using their own phone or smart device, patients can use tools like AiCure’s Patient Connect app to stay on track with their medications, visits and assessments. Patient specific treatment regimens help the patients know what medication to take and when to take it, and help them navigate complexities like titration, and support important safety considerations like minimum time between doses. Providing tools to record background medication and to track side effects within the same application can simplify the demands on the patient to recall large amounts of information and lead to more reliable higher quality data.

Remote assessments are also easily introduced through the app. For oncology patients, who are often immunocompromised, there are clear benefits to collecting as much data as possible remotely. In addition to sending targeted questionnaires, the technology can be used for virtual visits with site clinicians, electronic patient-reported outcome (ePRO) assessments and measurements of relevant digital biomarkers (DBM) such as changes in facial affect that could be indicative of symptoms such as depression or fatigue.

Optimized Sites Set the Stage for More Engaged Patients

For clinical trial sites, the ability to engage with and monitor patients outside of the clinic setting can be the difference between a patient successfully completing a trial or not. 

This leads to another important way that this type of technology can improve oncology trials. Data from AiCure Patient Connect is available to the site in real time, and event-based triggers, such as a drop in adherence, or reporting of a particular side effect, can proactively alert the site when a patient needs support. Site team members can then use the same application to reach out to the patient via text messaging or video chat. This kind of immediate intervention when issues arise can be critical to keeping a patient engaged and involved, preventing patient drop-outs.

Easy-to-use technologies can help patients stay on top of their treatment regimens and the activities required by the study protocol, streamlining and reducing the stress of participating in a trial. More importantly technology can provide a unique insight into how patients are progressing and ensure that help and support can be provided by sites to the patients that need it when they need it most. For more information on AiCure, Patient Connect and how AI is evolving how clinical research is done, visit