A clinical trial’s outcome depends on several variables, but one of the most important is patient recruitment. Ineffective trial recruitment strategies can cause late-stage trials to be delayed by roughly 11 months, increasing operational costs and extending time to market.
Clinical trial recruiting strategies begin with the patient in mind and include a range of outreach techniques intended to inform and engage prospective participants. A wise way to guarantee that the process is effective and preserves the patient experience as the top priority is to create a clinical trial patient recruitment plan before outreach begins.
Ways to improve patient recruitment in clinical trials
Here are the proven 7 ways to improve patient recruitment in clinical trials
- Feasibility studies
- Enhancing Patient Screening Techniques
- Create a patient-cantered recruitment procedure
- Utilize interactive tools to boost enrolment
- Utilize social networks and mobile platforms
- Create Systems for Patient Monitoring and Follow-Up
- Respond to patient concerns
Let’s look at each way in detail.
1. The feasibility studies
This procedure involves,
- Assess internal and environmental capacities.
- Coordinate the design of clinical trials within the regional setting.
- Investigate product dose, comparator, and patient type.
- Assess the feasibility of carrying out clinical trials in a specific country.
Strong feasibility guarantees a realistic evaluation and the capacity to carry out the clinical trial. Clinical trial feasibility studies help to identify issues in advance and to decide how to approach various nations and locations and their particular problems.
In the absence of coordinated networking of clinical trial centres, feasibility studies help identify region-specific or even institution-specific behaviours that may affect the overall study completion.
Feasibility would serve as a scorecard for future performance, particularly for the number of sites and patients. Feasibility studies are also helpful in:
- Determine the relevance of the patient population to the condition we wish to study.
- Are the visits from the subjects, the comparators, and the research plan appropriate?
- What are the ethical and statutory issues?
- What are the typical start-up and research approval timelines?
- How committed must all potential partners, country offices, CROs, and sites be to the program as a whole to complete the clinical trial?
2. Enhancing patient screening techniques
The contract research organization (CRO) should have an efficient screening procedure that is less invasive and doesn’t involve a lot of travel. Such methods have become possible because of technologies like remote sampling.
The collection of extra data or the inclusion of pointless clinical trial procedures may lead to the need for more frequent research visits and prevent the study design from being simplified.
When drafting the study protocol, we should consider any potential impacts of the medical equipment selection on patient recruitment and retention. By including point-of-care testing (POCT) in the study design, we can help to minimize the number of site visits, travel time, and travel expenses for the patients.
At the time of patient consent, information regarding the advantages of POCT can generate interest, which will aid with recruitment and retention during the trial. Additionally, POCT equipment will help the clinical trial reduce the costs, risks, and time involved in transporting samples to labs for analysis.
3. Create a patient-Centered recruitment procedure
When developing and implementing recruitment initiatives, stakeholders are increasingly focusing their efforts on patient-centered solutions. Planning recruitment strategies based on particular patients, as opposed to the condition, is required. Researchers collaborate with patients as part of specific patient recruitment tactics during the clinical trial design phase to take a more active role in:
- Obtaining patient comments on the study’s design
- involving patients, their friends, and the community as trial volunteers
- Giving comments on clinical outcomes
- Creating research schedules
- As drug research companies shift their focus to creating tailored and patient-centric medication, such initiatives promote patients’ sense of ownership.
We can lower overall costs and access a more expansive selection of acceptable patients across various sites by focusing on the long-term availability of patients at the beginning of the trial.
The Medical Research Council UK advises that CROs communicate with local patient advocacy groups and organizations before the start of a clinical trial to solicit their feedback on the design and foster a sense of “ownership” of the clinical trial.
“Individual, individualized, and patient-centric care is what clinical research will look like in the future, especially in oncology. Based on the needs of each patient, we must draft guidelines and develop recruitment plans.
4. Utilize interactive tools to boost enrollment
Another barrier stopping people from enrolling in clinical trials is a lack of pertinent information. Individuals were more receptive to trial participation through videos than written, audiovisual, or video materials.
Additionally, compared to an audiotaped presentation, an interactive computer presentation increased recruiting.
5. Utilize social networks and mobile platforms
Over time, there have been changes in how patients learn about clinical trials. Patients used to receive information about clinical trials via mail, the media, and their HCPs. Early in the new millennium, there was a substantial change in how corporations sought prospective employees.
Since new forms of contact, like email, have been developed, CROs do not need to “snail-mail” patients. Due to the use of social media and cell phones, communication is much more direct today. According to a study, social networking sites like Facebook have the potential to help recruit people for clinical trials.
Clinical trial sponsors and CROs are aware of the potential of social media for connecting with “e-patients.” When someone is “equipped, enabled, empowered, and involved in their health and health care decisions,” they are said to be using this word.
Many online patients consider themselves partners with doctors in obtaining the best medical care. Today, social media helps to communicate with patient networks, boost patient recruitment and retention, and notify doctors of new developments. To reach e-patients and physicians, several CROs now use webinars and trial-matching platforms.
Although social media can assist in quickly disseminating clinical trial information to many individuals, e-patients may not always respond to promotional messages that are more general. These posts should instead be interesting, educational, and tailored to each reader’s needs.
6. Create systems for patient monitoring and follow-up
The research organization should have strategies to follow up with patients after they’ve joined the study to increase the retention rate.
Conducting on-site clinical trial monitoring is challenging due to travel restrictions and many other issues. Although remote monitoring has always been a sensible choice, it is now gaining popularity.
Clinical trial monitors who use remote monitoring do not physically visit the study site to upload and examine data. The data monitoring is virtual. CROs and research sponsors/stakeholders can access the data from any location using digital technology.
7. Respond to patient concerns
Another reason patients miss opportunities to receive treatment in research settings is misconceptions about clinical trials. A study of 6,000 cancer patients in the US found that;
- 16% had declined to participate in a clinical trial because they believed the treatment would be less effective than the standard treatment.
- 37%were worried about receiving a placebo.
- 31% feared getting the treatment.
We can ease these anxieties by reaching out to patients with clear, understandable information. This entails disseminating knowledge and instruction using social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter that these patients are most likely to use.
Educational efforts could emphasize things like the fact that clinical trials are typically risk-free and that novel therapies might provide a more effective treatment choice than older ones. Study managers should guarantee patients that they will be treated with respect and support at every stage of the study when organizing and managing the trial.
We can overcome obstacles to patient recruitment by taking several doable actions. At the beginning of each trial, study managers can develop an action plan and make sure they collaborate with suppliers who are best suited to assist them in achieving their unique study objectives. To maximize patient enrolment and long-term retention, we must be able to customize their approach so that it appeals to various patient groups and providers.