What is the Difference Between eCOA and ePRO?

What is it used for? 

Companies such as Clinical Ink provide patients today with a safe data program where they can feel a sense of ownership over their health-related information. There are different outcomes related to the information the patient provides. These are known as electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePRO) or electronic clinical outcome assessments (eCOA).

Read on in this article to find out the differences between the two, and the qualities that each has that can help patients with their health information in the future.

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The Differences

Electronic patient-reported outcomes, otherwise known as ePRO, are information provided by the patient regarding side effects, symptoms, drug timing, or questions they have relating to their health that is then recorded on an electrical device throughout their clinical trial.

The technology needed to gather ePRO information can be found in an app format. The good news is that it can be downloaded onto any device, like an Apple or Android product. If you choose to use this format, many of the ePRO vendors will have the technology that you need, pre-loaded onto the application. This makes it easier for the user to navigate from the beginning. With ePRO technology, the user can record their responses to clinical trial questions. Depending on which application you go for, some offer the user the chance to take videos or photos through the app in order to provide some additional context. Like other apps, these applications contain features that will help patient compliance. For example, reminder alarms throughout the day to help enable their response times.

Equally, another common term that is related to ePRO is eCOA, otherwise known as clinical outcome assessments. It is used to refer to ePRO, but can also be considered as another term for electronically recorded patient outcomes. So, what is the difference? The difference between eCOA and ePRO is actually that ePRO is a type of eCOA. They both work together in order to help clinical trial patients to use the technology to send their symptoms and experience directly to sites and staff.

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How are they useful?

It is reported today that over a quarter of clinical trials use patient-reported outcomes, such as ePRO, digitally. This is important for the healthcare industry, as getting patient-reported outcomes means it enhances understanding of how the treatment is working, and future treatments patients might need. They also have on-site doctors to measure the quality of life for these patients and increase their knowledge of other things such as pain symptoms.

According to the Vice President of eCOA Clinical Science and Consulting eCOA company ERT, Sarah Dallabrida: “As more and more drugs are entering the market, really what we need to understand are the patient impacts and the patient profiles of those drugs.” She went on to explain how the eCOA can lend itself to helping identify how the next installment of drugs will be useful to the patient.

 Why use ePRO over the paper format?

When you think about it, almost every aspect of our daily lives can be experienced online. For this reason, electronic patient-reported outcomes still aren’t as common as one might think. In 2014, over half of clinical trials still used the paper format. The ePRO industry hopes to grow by 15% by 2025. So, why should people lean towards ePRO?

Part of the reason for this is the savings it can help with. If you are using ePRO, in some cases it could involve some up-front costs. Technology, in general, has the potential for saving costs in the future. Using an electronic ePRO rather than paper costs means it can help save money in the long run. Also, with trials that use ePRO, fewer participants are needed. There is less room for making errors like there are in paper formats. Previous studies have shown that ePRO has room for more accurate results, although each trial has its own budget and figures so it can differ from situation to situation.

Thinking about the technological world that we live in,  it seems more necessary for patients to be given an ePRO e-diary. It is the more efficient and environmentally friendly option.

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