Why cost is the #1 reason people don’t participate in clinical trials-but it shouldn’t be
Traveling costs are one of the top concerns of patients traveling for clinical trials
One of the top concerns of patients and their families before they decide on fully participating in a clinical trial is the costs associated with traveling to and from the sites for the trial visits. As a clinical travel coordinator, we call our patients and families and go over what expenses the sponsor of the trial will cover – and generally, families are so grateful to hear that the sponsor covers almost all of their travel expenses. I have had families cry over the phone because they were so concerned over out-of-pocket expenses to just participate in a trial, and to find out they do not have to worry about that was a weight off their shoulders.
Other costs usually covered by clinical trials
Most trials not only cover cost of flights, hotel and ground transportation, but they also provide a daily “per diem” to cover meals and incidentals. Depending on the trial, this could be anything from $15.00 per day/per person to $100.00 per day/per person, or more. We provide the patient or family with a reloadable Visa card to keep during their participation throughout the trial. When the clinical site notifies us of an upcoming visit, we load the per diem funds onto the card 48 hours prior. By having a meal per diem, the patient and/or family does not have to save their receipts and file an expense report later. They simply just use their reloadable Visa card to pay for meals during their travel and visit days. These funds are theirs to keep and spend as they please.
A patient receives help when needing it most
I recently was scheduling a payment to be loaded onto a patient’s card, when I realized that this patient had over $3,000.00 in available funds, and the card had not been used at all during the two years they had been participating in the trial. I contacted the patient, wanting to make sure they had received their card and that it had not been misplaced. The patient stated they misplaced the card and did not realize they could call and get a replacement. When they realized that over the last two years, funds were still being added to the card for all of their visits and they now had over $3,000 on the card, this patient was in tears of relief. They explained that recently, due to COVID-19, the patient was furloughed from their job and was struggling to make ends meet. The patient told me that they were starting a new job in two weeks, but they did not know how they were going to get groceries and essentials over the next few weeks until their first paycheck would come in. When I called them that day to advise them of these funds and that I could get a new card sent out to them via FedEx, that was an answer to their prayers.
Participating in a clinical trial is a commitment in many ways, but worrying about paying for travel, meals, etc. to get to your visits should not be a concern. Always reach out to your travel team to find out what benefits you may be missing.
By Tammy Starkey