• Joanna Thomson

5 trial recruitment protocols for clinical research today


Clinical trial enrollment is notoriously difficult; this is why, every year, 15-20% of research sites fail to enroll a single patient! As most sites now realise, the key to improving these fragile statistics is by implementing a patient-centric approach to clinical research. Today, we take a look at 5 procedures that will enhance your patients’ experience and help you get the most out of your trial recruitment process. Check out our breakdown below.


1. Train staff in customer-care


The first step to implementing a patient-centric approach is to understand how to effectively communicate with potential candidates. You’ll be surprised how often patients feel that they aren’t being listened to. The art of conversation is something practically everyone does everyday so it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that just because you can communicate, you can do it well. Unfortunately, the consequences of ineffective communication may be more serious than you think. Patients who regularly face stigmatized attitudes and behaviors are more likely to suffer a range of poor health outcomes, and even have a reduced capacity for taking care of themselves.

Understanding how to communicate more effectively with your patients could be the difference between a great and a terrible patient experience.


According to a report by Explorance, training staff in customer service and care produces 4 key benefits for any business, regardless of sector. These benefits are as follows: higher employee motivation and engagement, improved customer communication, increased customer satisfaction, and a rise in profit. While the later of these may not be your top priority when looking for your miracle cure, these benefits that apply to general business actually make so much sense in clinical research.

Research sites need to remember that they aren’t just dealing with data, and that there is a person behind every disease or condition; so customer care must be almost exactly the same in research. The difference is these people are patients, and, if anything, they should be spoken to with more care than your average customer. Improving the quality of your customer service through training leads to an increase in patient satisfaction, retention and loyalty.


2. Establish a social media campaign


Speaking of effective communication, does your clinical trial have its own social media campaign? If not, then your message may not be as clear to patients as you think it is.

Today, research sites must advertise their clinical studies in ways that appeal to the general public. As the vast majority may be completely unaware of clinical research, it is vital that the methods employed by sites feel fresh and relevant to everyday life. Make sure to market your study online; mobile advertising is fast becoming the most popular way to sell products/services. Social media is also an ideal platform for raising awareness. It’s estimated that 2.56 billion people are on social media worldwide, so making a profile on Facebook or Twitter puts your study among the masses. To find out more about the power of social media and its results on patient engagement, check out our previous article available here.

3. Create (digital) educational resources


Since there is a stigma and a general lack of awareness surrounding clinical research, it is vital that research sites rectify this issue. Creating digital educational resources that aim to inform candidates about the industry means that crucial information about your clinical study can be made easily accessible. Not only this, but these resources also act as excellent content to share across your social media channels.

Why is this necessary? Over the lockdown period, more and more people have been using online material to substitute for in-person teaching. Programs like BBC Bitesize and the Open University have seen increases in usership across the platform. Our tips: clinical research recruiters might want to think about hiring digital content creators to produce material targeted at candidates. For instance, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute runs an infographic-style page on their website that answers a wide range of FAQs in the simplest way possible.

4. Maximise accessibility


Whether we have been using them to telecommute or keep in touch with shielding loved ones, video call services have truly saved us all over this tough period. With Zoom reporting a leap in usership from 10 million to 200 million over the last 3 months, it would be unwise for research sites to ignore this new method of communication when it comes to modifying their patient recruitment and enrollment protocol.

Connecting with patients via video-call technology is a must today. To ensure that research sites get the most out of their meetings, check out our previous article on patient-researcher communication here.


On a similar note, advancements in technology mean that patients are no longer required to physically visit trial sites and, as a result, telemedicine is on the rise. The fact is that, right now, medical professionals in the US are overburdened; an article by The New York Times reveals ‘patients are treated like widgets, and doctors and nurses are treated like assembly-line employees’. The same report finds that there are actually more administrators than doctors available to respond to patient needs, with the current ratio between staff at 10:1. This needs to change if research sites hope to give patients a positive and customized experience.

A study by IQVIA also estimates that the US spends around $2.9 trillion on healthcare every year, which is more than any other nation per annum. Yet, it is also assumed that around $200 billion of these costs could be avoided. Some of these unnecessary costs cover travel expenses for

appointments and medication non-adherence - both of which can be easily avoided if researchers employ a series of telemedicine strategies.


As in-person medical care is an increasing challenge for many, telemedicine will now save a vast amount of patients a trip to the pharmacy. A report published by the American Migraine Foundation backed up these claims by recommending telemedicine as an alternative to traditional clinical protocol, proving this change to be especially beneficial under social-distancing regulation. While traditional medications are still recommended, the use of telemedicine will be essential for providing alternatives that we are now seeing emerge.

The key benefit to telemedicine is an increase in the quality of patient care. As patients can be digitally linked to research sites, candidates can now voice any worries or concerns via a technological platform - with some platforms allowing 24/7 modes of communication. Today, there are around 4.57 billion active internet users as of April 2020; meaning that the Western world is more connected than ever before. This, in turn, opens up opportunities in clinical protocol for the clinical research industry to take advantage of.

5. Emphasis after-care


It’s so easy for research sites today to think that the patient is no longer involved after they have been admitted from the clinical trial program, when the researcher has gathered all the data they need from them. What we need to remember is this: part of doing a good deed is also about knowing where all your effort is going. Patients want to know what their own efforts have achieved, and it’s the researcher’s responsibility to keep them informed.

If not only out of courtesy for the patients wants, keeping candidates informed beyond the study’s lifetime also encourages participation in future projects. At the end of the day, people aren’t going to be too fussed to participate in something that seemed to have no effect/appears pointless in hindsight the first time around. This is why sending monthly updates that contextualises what their contribution has added to the field of study is an excellent way to keep patients involved and engaged.


Here at Citruslabs, we've created the ideal patient recruitment dashboard to help any researcher improve their current metrics. With over 3 million patients on record, we ensure research sites are connected to a thoroughly educated and engaged pool of participants; so, it is no wonder why we have such high patient confidence! Now, we would say that other models are available - but this would be a lie. In fact, unlike that offered by other patient recruitment companies, our easy-to-use dashboard is the first-of-its-kind for the market; giving researchers a unique insight into their patients’ wants and needs via industry-leading technology. The future of clinical recruitment starts here.

  • Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with us here, and check out our archives for all our top tips and tricks on running successful clinical trials in today's constantly changing industry.

Still a little unsure? Check out what our customers have to say about us here.

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