• Joanna Thomson

How tech is reinventing site engagement in clinical trials today


Industry giants Science 37 yesterday announced the launch of their digital solution to traditional trial record systems. With a focus on streamlining their sites’ methods of recording and safely sharing patient health records, we can add this tech breakthrough to an ever-increasing list of alternative research solutions available today. As trials everywhere look to reduce site visits by patients and staff alike, technology is fast becoming the go-to for an industry forced to seriously consider the use of decentralised clinical trials.


Today, we take a look at how tech is currently reinventing site engagement in clinical research; and what kinds of solutions research sites everywhere should seriously consider integrating with their clinical protocol.


Virtual trial software


What is clear from recent developments within the industry is that a wealth of benefits for trial operators can be reaped from virtualisation. Clinical trials are often delayed or fail due to difficulties with clinical trial enrollment, and it is evident that virtual clinical trials - especially in recent years - outshine their traditional counterparts in terms of recruiting successfully. Clinical research recruiters must also note that distance, disability, and the need for frequent in-person visits are major barriers to participation in clinical studies; with a study in Alzheimer disease finding that home visits were the factor most likely to enable greater participation in clinical research. The fact is that virtual site visits could reduce the time and travel burden of participating in clinical studies.

If we can deduce one thing from recent developments (check out our article on recent developments here), it is that the technology of virtual trials may now be ready to be implemented as the new norm. In a world that is now hidden away, unable to participate in live studies, this technology could be the answer that a lot of halted trials are searching for.


Yet, if we are to consider this a possibility, it is vital that the issue of patient confidence is addressed. Regardless of traditional or virtual methodology, a lack of patient confidence is recurring. Thus, it is of the highest importance for companies to work with partners who have experience in patient retention and are able to maintain close relationships with the patients during the very testing process of the clinical trial.


Digital recruitment


The fact is that digital recruitment appeals to some of the core elements of today’s society - and not solely to research enthusiasts, as previous methods have relied on for success. According to data gathered in April 2020, there are approximately 4.57 billion people now online, with the recent rise of ‘big data’ emerging from the healthcare industry meaning that trials may need to seriously consider this growth in usership (for more information on ‘big data’, check out our guide to the topic here). Ultimately, this means that how we understand patients’ wants and needs has fundamentally changed over the course of just a few years; and so the old days of paper surveys and postal questionnaires are practically behind us.


This also means that the traditional ideas of how certain groups in society communicate have now become stereotypes. According to the latest figures produced by Facebook, 62% of online seniors (that is, people 65 or older who regularly use the internet) have a registered profile on the site, indicating that the older population is now more tech-aware than ever before. Patient recruitment - especially for trials concerning this particular age group, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia research - are now strongly recommended to invest in digital technologies to appeal to potential patients.


Getting on social media and having an impressive website not only attracts a wider audience of patients but can improve site engagement in that CROs can be easily updated on their site’s progress. An active account on Facebook or Twitter can bring more traffic to your site; and this is a type of progress that can be turned into quantitative data - and we all know investors love to see upward-pointing lines on their line graphs.


Patient recruitment dashboards


The beauty of a patient recruitment dashboard is that it functions as not only the central method of recruitment for clinical trials, but also acts as an efficient mode of accessing and keeping track of multiple, exterior sources of recruitment. Citrus allows sites to recruit from multiple sites and sources, ensuring that patients are educated on clinical trials and fit the criteria of the study at hand. With the accessibility of our desktop and mobile applications, all run on easy-to-use interfaces, Citrus maximizes your enrollment goals to their fullest potential.


Citrus: our all-in-one patient recruitment solution.

Outperforming traditional excel/paper systems, Citrus reduces the staff burden of clinical research by bringing patient interaction directly to the researcher - without the need for awkward telephone introductory interviews. Through our familiar messaging interface, research sites and patients alike can talk 24/7 with communication as easy as sending a text! Never miss a patient interaction again.


For research sites on a strict budget, the last thing you’ll want to do is waste time and money trying out various modes of recruitment and retention that just don’t stick. It’s a safe enough bet, for phase 1 clinical trials, to rely on traditional methods of recruitment (such as local clinic databases); but the fact is that these methods just don’t stand up in later stages of research. Today, clinical research recruiters should be looking to build relationships with a variety of patients from a wide-scale of geographical locations to ensure compliance in later trials; and the best way to do this is via established patient recruitment portals like Citrus.


Systematically engage with patients and be assured that each potential study participant is lined up for the next stage of engagement. Our software does all the hard work for you. With an efficient task management system, your work is organised to create a means of easily following up and interacting directly with your patients.



  • 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.

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