Successful Patient Enrollment Hinges on One Thing

Patient recruitment for clinical trials

Successful Patient Enrollment Hinges on One Thing

Even with all of the advances across the clinical research marketplace – EMR, social media, big data, mobile technology — the success of patient enrollment remains largely with the study site. Earlier this month, I conducted a hands-on workshop for study coordinators and investigators at the MAGI Clinical Research Conference – 2015 West. The course allowed site representatives to highlight the support they need from sponsors.

So how can sponsors and sites work together to achieve enrollment goals?

Assess the Impact of the Protocol on the Site
The protocol is the foundation for any study, and sponsors need to consider the impact on sites and support them accordingly. Additionally, sites need to assess how the study will be implemented at their site, asking critical questions like:

  • How long will required procedures take?
  • How many staff members and what level of expertise will the protocol require?
  • How will data be collected – frequency, number of data points, and collection tools?
  • Are site staff familiar with IT and EDC systems being used for the study?
  • Will there be a need to enlist different physicians, outside of the site, for protocol requirements?
  • What is the duration of the study?

Technology Does Not Replace the Personal Approach
Sites agree that face-to-face interaction is essential to engage study staff and patients. Sites that attended the MAGI master class suggested:

  • Hosting regional dinner meetings for sites to connect with each other
  • Holding teleconferences to give sites the opportunity to share best practices
  • Supporting open houses, local outreach and education events that allow the site to expand their patient pool and have direct patient interaction

Effective Recruitment Takes More Than Money
While financial support is vital to patient enrollment, some sites may also need guidance on how to conduct outreach. Many sites are stretched thin and may not have a designated patient recruitment specialist. Often, a Study Coordinator handles recruitment and may be new to that task or be overburdened with other responsibilities. Sites suggest:

  • Providing training on recruitment tools and activities
  • Resource support, like an on-site visit from an outside patient recruitment specialist
  • Help with pre-identification of patients, such as a protocol-specific checklist or help identifying patients in the site’s database

Customize When Possible
When it comes to patient recruitment, one size does not fit all. Every site is different – different experience, different patient populations, different set up, and so on. And while not all tactics and support can be customized, sponsors need to allow time and resources for site-specific strategies, such as:

  • Customized patient recruitment plans, materials and advertising
  • Targeted tactics specific to the patient and condition
  • Outreach that taps advocacy groups, patient communities and events in the site’s community

Patient recruitment is truly a partnership between sponsors and sites. Success comes from supporting each other the right way.

Looking to increase the enrollment at your study sites? UBC has patient recruitment specialists and targeted solutions for your next study. Contact us to learn more.