As clinical research continues to expand across diverse markets and regions, it is imperative for data to reflect the global population. Data that is representative of all patients, including those of diverse backgrounds, ensures that the medical product in development serves and benefits everyone. One of the most effective ways to capture holistic data is through engaging patients with their health treatment options.
Research shows that patients who are more engaged with their health are more likely to experience better health outcomes than those who are less engaged. This is accomplished through improved health policies, education, and service delivery. So, how can you effectively reach patients of diverse backgrounds?
For global clinical trials, translation ensures that the patient is actively engaged in their health outcomes and treatments by providing culturally equivalent and accurate information. To better understand the role of translation in patient engagement, let’s dive into what patient engagement really is.
Patient Engagement 101
According to researchers from Columbia University, “Patient engagement is both process and behavior and is shaped by the relationship between the patient and provider and the environment in which healthcare delivery takes place.”
Enhancing a patient’s engagement with their medical care professional improves their understanding of their health and their choices regarding treatment options.
The more engaged patients are, the better equipped healthcare providers are to allocate resources in a way that is aligned with patient priorities. This is crucial for health equity.
While everyone may agree that patient engagement is important to R&D and patient care, the real challenge is understanding which of the myriad tools are most effective for your specific clinical trial and how to time it in your region of operation to reach your target audience.
There are several tools for measuring patient engagement. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs), sometimes referred to as patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), are a type of clinical outcome assessment (COA). They focus on taking data directly from the patient about their experience during a clinical trial, without interpretation from healthcare providers.
Other social engagement tools include:
- Social media (monitoring product reviews, reporting adverse events, etc.)
- Chatbots (appointment reminders, refilling prescriptions, etc.)
- Telehealth (video physician visits, online support, etc.)
- Apps and patient portals
- Ongoing educational materials (emails, newsletters, etc.)
For global companies operating in diverse markets, one of the most important tools for actively engaging patients is translation.
Translation & Patient Engagement
Translation plays an integral role in communicating and engaging with patients of diverse backgrounds, whether it’s used in a clinical trial being conducted across multiple regions and sites or a local doctor’s office within a diverse community. How can you connect with someone and gain trust enough for medical treatment if you don’t even speak the same language, let alone understand more subtle things like local cultural nuances?
Overcoming language and cultural barriers helps to improve health literacy, patient trust, and medical product function and development. Here are some ways that translation facilitates higher patient engagement:
- Multimedia content adaptation: translating instructional videos, informative animations, and infographics. This includes clinical gaming technologies that improve health literacy and engage patients in a more dynamic way, compared to traditional patient-facing informational documents.
- COA translation: COAs are used in clinical development to measure a patient’s feelings toward a clinical trial. For life sciences organizations seeking regulatory approval overseas, COAs (and PROs) must be accurately translated. They must also be adapted in a way that is consistent and reflective of the patient’s experience while still complying with local regulatory formatting requirements. This includes migrating COAs from paper to digital.
- Medical interpretation: Often confused with medical translation, medical interpretation focuses on the spoken aspect of language rather than the textual. Medical interpreters engage limited English proficiency (LEP) patients, acting as the communication bridge between the doctor and patient.
- App/website localization: Telehealth is becoming more and more widespread, particularly following the COVID-19 outbreak. Adapting patient portals and websites into different languages is more important than ever to improve diverse patients’ understanding of their health, as well as empower them to make informed decisions.
- Multilingual training: Training is a huge concern for medical and clinical staff globally. Groundbreaking innovations and ever-changing regulatory policies shift the face of the life sciences industry every day. Businesses must ensure their staff are up-to-date and well trained, regardless of the region they are in or the language they speak.
There is no doubt that patient engagement is essential for improving global health equity. Life sciences organizations must engage patients, particularly those of diverse backgrounds who have historically been overlooked.
The more engaged patients are, the less likely they are to drop out of clinical trials. Additionally, highly engaged patients are more interested in understanding their treatment options in order to make more informed decisions regarding their health. As we move toward a more globally connected world, life sciences companies must leverage translation to improve patient engagement.
Interested in learning more about how translation can facilitate greater patient engagement for your company? Contact us here.