Participant Engagement Award Finalists Named for 2024

By Allison Proffitt 

December 12, 2023 | The judges have announced the finalists for the annual Participant Engagement Award that is awarded each year at SCOPE, the Summit for Clinical Ops Executives. In 2024, entries from Acclinate, CISCRP, IMA Clinical Research, Oliver Patch Project, PatientWing, and SGM Alliance have progressed to the final round of consideration. The winner will be named after a live judging session with audience participation in Orlando, February 11-14. 

The Participant Engagement Award—first conceived in 2016—highlights creative work across the clinical research industry that helps better engage and understand research participants.  

“In 2016, Micah Lieberman, David Sall, and I started talking about how we could showcase innovations in patient engagement and communication and in 2017 we hosted the first Participant Engagement Award at SCOPE,” explains Kelly McKee, Vice President, Decentralized Clinical Trials (DCT) and Patient Registries, Medidata and co-founder of the Participant Engagement Awards. “Since then, we have seen some amazing programs and companies doing really important work in improving the way the industry communicates with participants in the fields of recruitment, retention, and patient engagement. From our first winner Jerry Matczak of Eli Lilly and Company (who sadly passed away shortly after receiving the award), who used Buzzfeed to explain clinical research to a new generation, to Merck using virtual reality to engage pediatric patients, we have witnessed the evolution of treating patients more like people and less like subjects, a word we are desperately trying to remove from any patient-facing communication.” 

The judges welcome submissions from every aspect of the industry including sites, CROs, e-patient advisors, agencies, start-ups, and sponsors. All are invited to submit their best work in the Patient Recruitment and Retention communications field. Entries are assessed on their ability to improve access, awareness, and participation in clinical trials, creativity, innovation, regulatory and legal compliance, and the ability to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

“Innovation is all about continuing to get better and better,” McKee says. “While we have come a long way from the days when patients participating in research were considered ‘subjects’ and ‘guinea pigs,’ we still have a long way to go. Only when clinical research is presented as an option to all people and participation is as easy or easier than standard of care, will we be ready to say that our work is done. Until then, we must continue to engage, empower, and educate the world on the value of research participation and continue to find new ways to improve in our space.”  

2024 Finalists 

Enhancing Equitable Clinical Trial Participation  

Acclinate is a digital health company helping pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations access and engage communities of color so research is more inclusive. We specialize in building “affective” (emotional vs. cognitive) trust with historically underserved populations so they can make informed health decisions and learn about clinical trial participation. Through our online platform, NOWINCLUDED, we provide education, resources, and research opportunities to community members. 

Journey to Better Health Mobile Exhibit 

Journey to Better Health is a mobile exhibit that showcases clinical research information to local communities in an exciting, interactive way. In Fall 2023, the exhibit traveled to community events in Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD to share information and resources about clinical research and the critical need for more diverse representation. 

IMA Clinical Research  
Innovative Patient Engagement: Leveraging Mobile Research Units to Bridge Gaps in Clinical Outreach 

We are honored to present IMA Clinical Research’s Albuquerque, NM (ABQ) site to be considered for SCOPE’s Patient Engagement Award. Breaking the barriers of traditional clinical outreach, our Albuquerque branch has embraced innovation by leveraging Mobile Research Units (MRUs) to foster connections with the local disadvantaged populace. This initiative positioned the Albuquerque branch as a beacon for trust and resource access for their local community. The initiative stands testament to our commitment to prioritizing patient-focused care, facilitating convenient access, and increasing community awareness about invaluable clinical services. 

Oliver Patch Project 
Patches of Positivity: A New approach to Pediatric Clinical Trials Retention 

Over the preceding two years, the impactful initiatives undertaken by the Oliver Patch Project have been nothing short of extraordinary. Through their Patches of Positivity Program (POP), the organization has seamlessly woven threads of compassion, sending forth a staggering 12,000 cards to over 900 children, teenagers, and families courageously confronting the challenges of cancer. The POP program, an embodiment of unwavering love and support, manifests itself monthly through the delivery of a patch, a heartfelt card, and an uplifting animation. This rhythmic outpouring serves as a poignant reminder to these young warriors that they are not solitary in their struggle, linking them to a community of kindred spirits navigating similar journeys. In a momentous stride towards extending their benevolent reach, the Oliver Patch Project proudly heralds the global launch of the Patches of Positivity Clinical Research Support Program. This ground-breaking initiative extends its compassionate embrace to encompass any child enrolled in a clinical trial, recognizing the pivotal role of support and community in their arduous journey. The program is meticulously designed to forge essential relationships that prove indispensable for every child, teenager, and family, fostering continued involvement and engagement. At the heart of this innovative venture lies a foundation of unwavering positivity, not merely as a fleeting gesture but as a sustained force. The Patches of Positivity Clinical Research Support Program doesn't just create a pediatric retention program; it crafts an enduring tapestry of encouragement and support that envelops its participants throughout an entire year. In doing so, the Oliver Patch Project not only propels forward a program that works seamlessly but also nurtures a haven of empowerment, resilience, and unity for those navigating the challenging landscape of pediatric clinical trials. 

The Limitations Faced by Rare Disease Patients – Expanding Clinical Trial Access for EoE Patients  

“Do you feel limited by EoE?” was a meaningful campaign that was built on patient engagement and insights, deeply resonated with the Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) patient population and yielded impressive results: accounting for 23% of global randomizations, with 12% of those patients receiving their EoE diagnosis through screening. One of the biggest challenges that EoE patients voiced was the constant elimination of food groups from their diet, creating social, financial, and emotional burdens on their lives. The study website and supplemental materials were made with input and feedback from EoE patients, highlighting those limitations through imagery—such as the image of a patient picking at an empty plate with a singular pea, epitomizing the limitations patients face—patient stories, and educational condition resources. To promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the clinical trial, PatientWing raised awareness through a multi-channel campaign—digital, grassroots outreach, and advocacy—that included helping multiple patients both receive an official diagnosis and enroll in the study. For a rare disease like EoE that is gaining awareness, this enabled us to include study participants who may not have had insurance nor the means to pay out-of-pocket to obtain the diagnosis.  

SGM Alliance 
Improving Diversity of Sexual and Gender Minority Patients 

Health inequities exist between sexual and gender diverse populations and their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Much of this is rooted in the lack of data about their health. Part of this is continued underrepresentation in clinical trials, which limits the generation of clinical data that is essential to developing effective treatments for LGBTQIA+ patients. Starting January 2024, we will be presenting a series of webinars on various topics such as stigma, protocol design, data collection, etc. and are going to be publishing a comprehensive toolkit for members in the industry.

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