If you didn’t catch it this past August, Netflix released the documentary series Diagnosis, which is about patients seeking answers for their uncommon symptoms. It’s riveting, it’s eye-opening, it’s sometimes difficult to watch. For us at Praxis, it reinforced a core belief about patient recruitment – how important it is to fully understand the unique patient population for each study. And don’t worry, no spoilers here – just a few key takeaways we gleaned.
Every patient’s journey is different.
Each episode begins with Dr. Lisa Sanders speaking with a patient to understand their mysterious symptoms and history of misdiagnosis. Sanders then posts the patient’s story on the New York Times’ innovative crowdsourcing platform, which seeks feedback from the general public on a global scale.
What viewers witness in each episode is how each patient’s experience receiving a diagnosis for their symptoms is drastically different. We see patients and their support networks cope with years of misdiagnosis. For some, this leads to a mistrust in doctors. Other patients seem motivated to fight harder for a diagnosis, even going to extremes to find answers.
While the show illustrates the trials and tribulations that go along with a patient’s journey toward the accurate diagnosis of a rare disease, Praxis knows that the journey can also impact a patient’s likelihood to enroll in a clinical trial – regardless of the rarity of the condition. Praxis’ in-house analytics department supports us in understanding the patient journey, which we apply to the strategy for each of our recruitment campaigns.
Community is key.
Episode after episode, we see patients and their families positively impacted by the community of other patients who shared their experiences. For some, this was more important than the diagnosis itself, as the emotional toll of feeling isolated had impacted their lives just as deeply as the physical symptoms – if not more.
For those with rare and chronic conditions, advocacy groups and individual patient advocates can be important sources of support in a patient’s network. Often patients are actively engaged with the resources provided by these groups. We at Praxis understand this, and our in-house outreach manager provides some tips about how to engage with these organizations, which are known to impact recruitment.
Patients aren’t doctors.
The patients and their family members in Diagnosis provide us with insight into how people with no medical experience navigate the medical system and seek to understand the science behind the symptoms. Anger, confusion, and fear are just a few of the common emotions we see episode after episode – which reinforces just how important it can be to connect with patients through imagery, messaging, and a focus on patient-friendly writing in study materials.
We consider Diagnosis a must-see for everyone in the pharmaceutical industry – it powerfully illustrates how a patient’s experience living with a medical condition can impact their day-to-day life and reinforces for us how important this insight is. Contact our dedicated strategy team to learn more about how patient-focused recruitment can benefit your next clinical trial.