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5 Patient Retention Statistics: Our Clinical Team’s Perspective

June 3, 2021 | By 20/20 Onsite
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In our ongoing effort to provide decentralized, patient-first clinical studies with our mobile clinics, our team is always on the lookout for ways to improve the patient experience, and in turn, improve patient retention. 

Part of understanding what will help drive higher retention is understanding what causes patients to drop out of clinical trials in the first place. In other words, what are the common barriers and challenges patients face when trying to receive treatment? 

Our team did some digging to find the most common reasons why clinical trial participants are disengaged in treatment or drop out altogether and reflect on how that compares to what our clinical team has experienced firsthand. The five patient retention statistics below are the ones that stood out to us the most, and we provide our insights from the field and think about how 2020 On-site can help counter those barriers. Check it out below!  


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38% of clinical trial patients who dropped out believed their visits to be stressful. Source

Patients who agree to participate in clinical trials have volunteered their time and energy towards helping the greater good. Most patients may be suffering from chronic illnesses or conditions that make even the smallest tasks difficult. Therefore, if the testing experience is stressful for them, the patient may drop out. 

This statistic stood out to Dr. Debi Sarma, a 2020 On-site clinical optometrist: 

“Knowing the importance of putting patients first, 2020 On-site’s main focus is creating a comfortable environment for the participant. By traveling to the location of the patient, we aim to alleviate any stress tied to commuting or transportation. Onboard our mobile clinics, patients are greeted with friendly specialists who can cater to diverse needs to reduce stress related to language barriers or physical handicaps. Our mission is to make the patient feel relaxed and welcomed — that’s why we have a 95% Net Promoter Score (NPS) and excellent reviews from happy patients.” 


33% of clinical trial patients said their travel time to a site was between 30 minutes to one hour, and 22% reported their travel time was over 1 hour. Source.

Patients often may not have the time or energy to travel to a clinical trial site, especially if they are sick. In addition to living with a medical condition, they can be busy with their own schedules, families, and work — therefore, taking out time in their day to visit a site can be hard. This is especially challenging to the patient if a clinical trial requires multiple visits to a site per week.

Albi Santiago, Senior Manager of Clinical Operations and Fleet, shares his thoughts about patients traveling to clinical trial sites: 

“In the work that I’ve done with pediatrics and genetic blindness, it’s often more than just the patient who is coming to the visit. My patients are usually accompanied by their caregiver, who then also has to travel and request time off from work. With children, sometimes they have to weigh missing school or missing their appointment. For adults who have limited mobility due to their condition, it can be burdensome to ask someone else to take time off work to help them get to their appointment. We pride ourselves on our convenience and patient experience. When we plan our logistics, we take into consideration our patients’ needs and tailor those to them. We include some form of personalization during every visit — from the parking location to your experience on board, to the personal attention you get from our staff.” 

13% of the reason why patients dropped was due to the location of the site. Source.

There is a clear pattern for clinical trial drop-out rates: site location. Patients who travel long distances may be faced with additional stressors such as traffic. If they happen to live in rural areas where clinical testing isn’t popular, they most likely have to travel by plane or train to get to a site location. Many trial participants also utilize public transportation. 2020 On-site aims to alleviate those travel concerns for patients, making the entire experience more convenient and enjoyable no matter where they are located.  

Convenient site location is at the top of our team’s mind, especially Adam Merola, Clinic Manager:

“Access to care is a huge challenge in much of the U.S. I’ve heard firsthand from our patients and trial subjects about the challenges they face in scheduling and getting to their appointments, or finding appointments reasonably close to where their life takes place. I’ve been told so often directly from my patients that 2020 On-site and our partners were able to improve access to care for patients all over the country by bringing a high-quality care solution right to their front door."


11% of the reason why patients dropped was due to time commitment. Source.

Participating in a clinical trial takes time. However, when patient travel time is reduced, they can spend more time living their lives, which are likely already impacted by the disease or condition that brought them to a trial. 2020 On-site is here to prevent these barriers before they happen, ensuring patients have an enjoyable experience that doesn’t impact their day-to-day routine. 

This statistic stood out to Ivan Quiroz, Senior Director of Service Delivery: 

“Some of the testing we do can last all day. That’s already a huge time commitment from the patient just to physically sit and do the tests, not to mention any added time for check-in, check-out, and travel. By eliminating some of the other time-consuming parts of the whole patient experience like longer travel and wait times, I’ve noticed that we have a much more engaged and enthusiastic patient during the visit. Their focus is on the testing at hand instead of being distracted by the logistics and hassle before and after the tests. ”


Overall, more than 30% of patients drop out of clinical studies. Source. 

Over the years, there has been a steady decline in patient engagement. We have an opportunity to solve one of the largest barriers to this issue: site location. Because 2020 On-site can bring testing directly to patients, we can have a positive impact on the overall patient experience and research deadlines and budgets. 

Jess Mays, Senior Director of Life Sciences, shares why we have the power to improve patient retention: 

“To me, patient retention is about so much more than just keeping the patients who have already enrolled in the trial “happy enough” to keep going. It’s about making the experience good enough that they want to continue to participate in future trials. It’s also about identifying things that are prohibiting patients from even signing up in the first place, therefore limiting the population pool. As we look towards the future of diversity in clinical trials by making the necessary visits work within an assortment of work schedules, household obligations, transportation methods, and other availability, I hope 2020 On-site continues to be a key part of alleviating patient barriers wherever we can.“

Discover how 2020 On-site actively improves patient retention here.  

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