5 strategies that will improve your clinical trial recruitment
Just when you thought recruiting patients for your clinical trial couldn’t get any trickier, a massive global pandemic comes along and makes it even harder to enrol participants. Safety during the pandemic becomes the number one priority, as it should, but ensuring your clinical trial goes ahead is vital to helping progress treatment in your study area.
Suddenly, virtual approaches and remote tools are your new best friend. But whether your clinical trial is virtual, traditional, or hybrid by design, the same strategies can be applied to help you inch closer and closer to those enrolment targets and ensuring your study can go ahead. So, let’s take a look at strategies you can use to improve your clinical trial recruitment today:
Strategy #1: Make your patients the centre of everything
I cannot stress this enough. At every phase of your clinical trial development, everything you put in place needs to be based on patients’ needs. What the patient wants and needs should be built into the foundation of your study’s design, including the endpoints that are truly meaningful to them. A previous blog discusses in detail how to hear and use the patient voice to develop a clinical trial that works for them, and in turn, work for you.
If you’re working with a patient recruitment company, the needs of your patients should be their number one focus when creating outreach materials and targeting strategies. Here’s what to look out for:
Outreach approaches should be tailored to the trial condition area
The materials they create should reflect the patient population
They should be responsive to patients, and use social media and email to answer questions about the trial
Find out if they have relationships with patient advocates that they can utilise
Consider the methods they use to engage patients, are they right for your study?
Strategy #2: Reach out to local healthcare providers and patient advocates
Don’t underestimate the relationships patients have with their primary healthcare providers. They’re the people who have likely seen patients through any ailment they’ve ever had, and who they feel will understand their health better than anyone else. So, with that in mind, your trial should also provide outreach materials specifically for healthcare providers, too. Making sure they know about your clinical trial, understand it, and are confident in recommending it, can be really beneficial to engaging with the right patients.
Got connections with local hospitals, patient advocates, or non-profit organisations? Then use your network to get the word out there about your trial. Advocacy groups can be a huge help to your clinical trial recruitment. Mainly because that trust is already there. And not only will they help get your trial in front of patients, they have a deep understanding of the needs of their members. They can even show you what needs aren’t being met so you can go ahead and be the ones to meet them. Plus, their relationship with patients can be really helpful in developing new methods of engaging patients in research.
Strategy #3: Be where your patients are
Now more than ever, patients, in fact everyone, are spending their time online. So, that’s where you need to be. Digital patient recruitment campaigns should be your marketing focus right now. You want your clinical trial information to be all over Facebook, Twitter, Quora, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, Google, Bing… essentially wherever patients could be spending their time now. But to really make sure that your digital advertising will be seen by the right people, you’re going to want to take advantage of interest and keyword targeting, which works by finding patients who are actively searching for treatment options for their conditions.
Strategy #4: Save time and improve patient morale by screening for multiple trials
A simple way to save time and money is to screen for all trials in the same condition area at once. It’s also a good way to help increase patients’ chances of qualifying for a trial. This is a big benefit as patients being told that they don’t qualify for a trial they want to take part in, could put them off trying to sign up for others. But screening for multiple trials at once would hopefully increase their chances of qualifying. It’s win-win for everyone.
Multiple trial screening can be made easier by working with a patient recruitment company. They should develop online pre-screeners that direct patients based on their location and responses to the inclusion and exclusion criteria questions.
Strategy #5: Follow up with patients or be forgotten
Making patients feel important and front of mind needs to start even before they become participants. If patients are unsure about taking the leap and signing up, or if they’ve been too busy, following up with them could give them the nudge they need. Automated emails or texts can make sure patients know that you haven’t forgotten about them, and that your trial isn’t forgotten about.
Following up with patients should continue throughout the study to help reduce drop outs. A solid patient retention strategy is just as important as your recruitment strategy (another previous blog looks at this in detail here) and should be part of your trial’s patient-centric design, which takes us full circle to strategy #1.
Improving recruitment for clinical trials is what we do best here at COUCH Health. So, if you want to hear more strategies that work, get in touch.
Natasha loves working closely with our PAG partner network, taking the time to understand the challenges they face on a more human level. She’s enthusiastic, engaged, and always laughing, making the office a great place to be while tackling the challenge of putting a plan into place.