Volunteers are the scaffolding of any clinical trial. Without having enough or eligible number of people, clinical research can hardly be described as a research at all, let alone as a successful or active one. Respectively, when we discuss what might be the reasons for failure in this particular field, we cannot neglect the factor which reflects on patient outreach. In other words, one of the major challenges when it comes to the longevity and quality of clinical trials is related to adequate patient recruitment. Poor recruitment can have bad impact on future projects and can bring forward severe consequences such as patient’s distrust, integrity deflation and decreased revenue. On the other hand, well-managed recruitment practices will reduce dropout rates, will lessen the amount of suspicion and insecurity in potential volunteers, will save time and, lastly, will lower additional expenses.
A study carried out by Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development indicates that approximately 30% of PIs under-enrol in a specific trial, and roughly 20% fail to sign up a single patient. There is a whole host of reasons which causes such dramatic disturbances and malfunctions and it is usually driven not only by patients’ but also by investigators’ influences, both external and internal. Usually, the most common motives that trigger similar faults and result in patient dropouts include:
- the human subject expressing preferences for a particular treatment
- not understanding the trial and its purpose completely
- not agreeing to a random therapy assignment
On the investigators’ end, the reasons for not assigning patients may be:
- difficulties in terms of following the study protocol
- struggling to complete follow-up prerequisites
- difficulty obtaining informed consent from volunteers
So, it is really important to construct the right mechanism which eliminates patient non-entry levels. How to do this? The answer is simple. Establish a strategy which incorporates the usefulness of the following 6 tips to successful patient recruitment.
- Know your target patients
This is perhaps one of the most fundamental approaches that promises better subject’s admission, so try to think outside the box and look deeper. Consider highlighting factors which go beyond the typical ones like age, gender, geography etc. Be ready to compile a full and more thorough profile of the patient which emphasizes on questions such as “How often do they use social media?”, “Do they rely on online sources?”, “Is their purpose for enrolment finding entirely new cure for disease or do they want to receive a possible treatment for their medical condition?” and so on.
- Provide with enough updates
Keep your audience well-informed. Do not hesitate to share updates and news about completed, in-progress or soon-to-be-conducted trial. Provide enough training materials and instructional tools which will serve the needs of readers and human subjects interest in participating in a study.
- Make your trial distinguishable
Select appropriate branding techniques and deliver the right message to the public. It will catch their eye and attention. Catapult your mission in the most understandable words. Or attract newcomers by providing an additional service like free of charge memory testing, hearing tests, diabetes screenings and others.
- Have a well-optimised website
It may look as something obvious, but many fail to accomplish complete optimisation of their website which hosts various research programs. If your website lacks good optimisation, people will be unable to find it and, therefore, they cannot apply to any of the research projects being offered.
- Have a robust CTMS
After making sure that the website for clinical trials is effectively optimised, it comes natural to consider applying well-performing CTMS which creates a fluid singing-up and recruiting process. Choose a fast and user-friendly CTMS which can demonstrate robust search capabilities, captures real-time subject data and sets up an extensive subject database.
True, the process of enlisting human subjects in clinical trials is intensive, slightly tedious, but above all, time-consuming and costly. It is accompanied by a lot of complications and issues that derive from patients and sometimes even investigators. In this sense, addressing and understanding both sides and their concerns is vital when trying to achieve success and when executing productive recruitment plans. And when still the process of recruiting patients seems to be too difficult, integrate the five steps we mentioned above.