With recent research suggesting that around 48% of clinical trials under-enroll every year, and 80% of study delays are due to patient recruitment difficulties, it’s clear that the industry needs to reevaluate their existing clinical trial metrics. What is it about the clinical protocols and recruitment methods we are currently using that just aren’t working today? The answer to this question can be found in the attitudes that study investors and clinical trial sponsors hold when approached by research sites.
An academic study by researchers at the Duke Clinical Research Institute found that 54% of the clinical trials surveyed were labeled ‘one-and-done’ by investors. What clinical trial sponsors demand from research sites is not only a clearly communicated plan of action, but also a great deal of efficiency that researchers must maintain throughout the clinical research process. How research sites can provide some assurance is by investing more in new technological solutions.
What research sites need is something that will keep investors and clinical trial sponsors engaged in what research sites have to offer now and in future clinical studies. With 86% of clinical trials failing to meet recruitment targets every year, automated assistants could be the answer to strengthening the currently weak researcher-investor partnership at the root of the issue. Sponsors want to invest in the future of healthcare and it is time that research sites give them a pretty good reason to invest long-term.
The main problem for most sites now: how to integrate these assistants with existing clinical trial metrics. Today, we take a look at what technological solutions are on offer to research sites and how researchers can smoothly and efficiently combine traditional trial recruitment and engagement methods with the new.
Advertise with a website and social media
For most people, in our digital age, the first encounter they’ll have with your study is through the company website. And if it doesn't impress, there's little chance they'll say yes to anything you have to offer. A recent survey for Business.com found that a whopping 75% of people judge a company's credibility based on their website design. Website designers are expensive and this creates a dilemma for researchers with limited capital. So, how are you supposed to create an entire, polished website with little expense and no experience?
Well, it turns out you don’t need an arts degree to be creative these days. Website builders such as Wix and Wordpress offer professional templates on an easy-to-use interface. Simply drag and drop items on the page: no need to worry about code. If that wasn't easy enough, both companies allow access to the majority of their designs and widgets for free - with premium prices at discounted rates from time to time.
Remember the following:
Signpost your contact information. It's best to have multiple methods of contact for those among your targeted audience who are cautious of technology. Be sure to list your office’s name, address, and phone number on both your homepage and an easy-to-read contact page.
First come, last served. Don't go for the first design you see - think about all the other time-stretched designers that will copy and paste the same one. Look for an alternative design that could be slightly altered to fit your image. This way you avoid cliché templates while giving the design a unique twist.
Be mobile-friendly. While you might have an awesome design on your laptop screen, it’s crucial to remember that a lot of your audience will be clicking your link on a mobile - not a desktop. The formatting is almost always completely different so watch out for funny layouts that can occur.
Just like a strongly branded website, an enthusiastic social media presence also acts as a landing point for potential patients to get to know what you’re all about. Profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are essential to building the trust of your audience. The most engaging accounts are those that are most personable: make sure to reference the everyday when posting, and don’t forget to spread positivity whenever you can (nobody likes bad news).
Process ‘big data’ to know what your patients want
According to a recent survey by the McKinsey Global Institute, big data could generate up to $100 billion in value annually for the healthcare industry. For now, these big ideas remain conceptual but, for tech-savvy research sites, they could soon be reality. With the US healthcare industry now producing 2,314 exabytes of data every year, the future of clinical research will involve a data-driven approach to maintaining not only the patient-researcher relationship, but also the researcher-investor partnership.
The first and foremost area of interest with big data can be found in patient recruitment protocol, as more data from patients could mean a more complete picture of patient lifestyles. It’s estimated that, every minute, 3.8 million searches are made on Google, 2.1 million snaps are shared on snapchat, and 1 million people log onto Facebook. If research sites can implement big data processors to organise this scale of information, they will be able to understand how their clinical studies can align with the individual’s everyday life. From this, the industry as a whole can look to produce more meaningful methods of connecting with potential patients, person to person.
For research sites running clinical trials over extensive periods of time, it has always been a struggle to avoid non-compliance. Some of the most common issues in this area concern compliance deficiencies in the following: participant safety concerns, clinical protocol deviations, informed consent violations, and failure to maintain adequate case histories. Yet, with the help of digital monitoring apps, these could soon be problems of the past. Data collected from patients through these apps can be carefully organised and monitored for any significant changes that could endanger the patient’s welfare or the integrity of their data during the trial’s run.
What is clear is that traditional clinical protocol, in many areas of clinical recruitment and patient-welfare, just aren’t cutting it anymore. With our digital world now demanding digital solutions, clinical research recruiters must now seriously consider the impact of big data to further their own understanding of the patient’s wants and needs. Partnering with analytics and marketing experts is now an essential step in trial planning that will soon become standard practice - even for smaller companies or independent researchers.
Use robotic process automation to simplify everyday tasks
Robotic process automations (RPAs) take on any and all repetitive tasks of clinical research. A form of artificial intelligence, RPAs are the height of organisational tech. They can take the forms of anything from automated referral screeners to bots that transfer patient data into clinical trial databases. The future of clinical trial recruitment shouldn’t require staff to spend hours upon hours inputting information into Excel and Access - and this is where RPAs can really streamline the whole process.
The point of RPAs is to make clinical studies as simple and as time-efficient as possible; and this is something that clinical trial sponsors like to hear. Proven to increase accuracy, improve quality and scalability of production, and provide added security (especially for sensitive data), RPAs really gives investors something to think about investing their time and money in. With AI projected to drive a new wave of productivity and efficiency in the global labour market, employing RPAs gives investors one more reason to invest in your study.
Integrate patient recruitment dashboards to keep track of patient-welfare
If we know anything, it’s that a patient recruitment dashboard is the answer to efficient clinical recruitment and healthy patient retention. This is our area of expertise after all!
Here at Citruslabs, we use a bold new approach to address this issue. With the success of our #1 health app, Mindmate, and our industry-leading patient recruitment dashboard, Citrus, we know a thing or two about clinical research. Check out our archives for all our top tips and tricks on running successful clinical trials in today's constantly changing industry.
Research sites looking to increase patient recruitment and retention in clinical trials should look no further than Citrus. Our patient recruitment dashboard provides your study with fully integratable software to streamline your patient recruitment process. Recruit at scale with a human touch through automated, customized campaigns, and engage your patients in ways not possible with CTMS systems.
With over 200 research sites using the Citrus platform to screen thousands of patients every month, researchers across the globe are getting one step closer to finding new treatments for hundreds of different health conditions. Save valuable hours in your recruitment timeline. Increase on-site screenings, boost your enrollment targets, and retain more patients in your clinical trials.
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