Research shows that good communication between patients and healthcare professionals fosters trust and respect, positively impacts a patient’s wellbeing and results in greater treatment adherence and better outcomes generally [1].

As experts in clinical trial patient recruitment and engagement, we know this is similar for people who enroll in clinical research. Excellent engagement between research staff and patients can increase study retention, ensure participants feel supported and valued, and result in a more positive experience overall.

However, this isn’t always easy to achieve. Sites often lack extra time due to factors, such as:

  • the need to focus on the practical and administrative aspects of setting up and running the clinical trial
  • all the other clinical trials being overseen by the research team, which all require time and attention, and
  • other pressures such as limited resources.

Our Navigator service aims to solve this problem, minimizing the risk of delays to your clinical trials and reducing the possibility of early termination due to participant dropout. We work with sites on behalf of our clients to improve the participant and caregiver experience through direct engagement with clinical trial participants, which we know they value. These interactions, which can be adapted to client needs, support patients and their caregivers throughout the entire clinical trial process. This subsequently eases the pressure on sites and frees up staff to concentrate on other aspects of study delivery and patient care. It’s a win-win for all involved.

“With the rise of personalized medicines, there is increasingly no ‘one-size-fits-all’ design for clinical trials. This is also true for patient recruitment and retention; the personalized approach is key. Our Navigator service, which focuses on the participant and caregiver experience, makes sure clinical trial participants feel heard and engaged, and that they each get the support they need to stay involved in their study.” – Kate Shaw, Innovative Trials’ CEO.

Improving the patient experience
While most people may have a basic understanding of clinical trials, many are unlikely to know exactly how studies are conducted, the safeguards that are in place for each trial, or what is expected of participants [2].

Potential clinical trial participants are likely to have a lot of questions. Our Navigators can provide both a listening ear and the necessary knowledge to help them successfully navigate their way through the study.

During the pre-enrollment phase, our Navigators will manage digital referrals and quickly follow up with people who have registered their interest online for a particular clinical trial. They will speak to potential participants by phone to complete a pre-screening questionnaire to assess their suitability for the trial. If eligible, the Navigators will arrange the patient’s visit with their local site and send them regular reminders beforehand. This increases the likelihood that patients will attend their appointments, ensuring clinical trial patient recruitment remains timely and efficient.

Of course, pre-screening is just the first step. Even once this is complete, there is still a lot for participants to consider. For example, some trials may depend on remote monitoring through wearables, apps or other devices. Participants may be expected to keep online diaries or commit to regular hospital appointments.

Not everyone will have the technological know-how to set up the necessary equipment or the mental bandwidth to keep on top of their appointment schedule. Others will likely have questions about what to expect during the clinical trial and the treatment in question. This is where our Navigators can help.

Adaptable patient support according to clients’ needs

When it comes to ongoing patient support for the duration of a clinical trial, our Navigator service can be tailored to the needs of each clinical study. For some trials, a simple ‘helpdesk’ service may be all that’s needed. This is when clinical trial participants are given a phone number and email address, which they can use if they have a question or another form of support. These messages aim to be responded to within one business day.

Other trials may benefit from our Navigator team contacting clinical trial patients directly. They can be authorized to check in with patients during a study and assist with pre-agreed tasks. This includes support with e-diary completion, supplying appointment reminders or providing study updates to clinical trial participants and their caregivers.

How our Patient Navigators support study participants and boost retention

Through our new service, we can ensure that those taking part in clinical research get the support they need when they need it.

Our Navigators can

  • answer questions a participant may have about the study, helping to increase understanding of what clinical research entails
  • provide a high level of assistance with the use of devices or other digital tools required as part of the trial, and
  • listen to concerns a participant may have.

The only restriction to our service is that we cannot offer direct medical advice. Although our Navigators are all experts in clinical research, they are not healthcare professionals. We will make sure that any medical-related enquiries are reported to the site immediately. If life-threatening, our team will urge the individual to dial emergency services immediately. 

Our Navigator service helps to bridge the gap between research staff and participants, providing a friendly, practical, informative, consistent and sustained service. Engaging in regular communication in this way throughout a clinical trial will lead to stronger relationships with participants and their caregivers, improved wellbeing, and greater study adherence.

For clinical trial sponsors, our service helps ensure new and effective treatments are brought to market faster and more cost-effectively. We understand how important it is for pharmaceutical companies to stay ahead of their competition, particularly in the development of increasingly innovative and personalized therapies. Our Navigator service will promote timely and efficient patient recruitment and more robust results due to increased retention of participants, which will ultimately contribute to better patient care and financial benefits for sponsors. 

Contact us now to find out how our Navigator service can help increase participant retention in your studies by enhancing the patient and caregiver experience.


  1. Brewer J, Bartlett M, Harris D, Hui C. Improving communication between healthcare providers and pulmonary arterial hypertension patients: a survey of patient preferences. Pulm Circ. 2021;11(2):20458940211015813. Published 2021 May 21. doi:10.1177/20458940211015813
  2. Joshi V, Kulkarni AA. Public awareness of clinical trials: A qualitative pilot study in Pune. Perspect Clin Res. 2012;3(4):125-132. doi:10.4103/2229-3485.103593