By the year 2060, the numbers of people aged 65 and over is set to more than double from the 46million people in that age range today. This remarkable prediction is based on evidence that is already obvious – we are living longer lives. Modern advancements in medicine and technology have brought us to the point where the over-65’s will soon account for almost 24% of the population of the US alone.
Worryingly, however, despite the rising and aging population, figures from the FDA show that participation in clinical trials is falling among the over-65 age group. This is alarming, as this age group hold the key to developing new medicines and drugs to sustain a population that is living increasingly longer into later life, where these are most needed. Senior participation in clinical trials is becoming increasingly key to understanding how new medicines will affect older people, and learning how they will respond to new treatments as they become available. As we age our bodies may react differently to drugs, medicines and treatments, different side-effects may be observed and dosages must also account for age.
There are many possible explanations for failure to recruit seniors for clinical trials: Seniors are often less likely to meet eligibility requirements due to existing health conditions or medication, they are also often living alone or isolated, and many are unable to travel to trial locations. Caregiver participation is also an often-specified requirement by studies involving seniors, which may prevent seniors enrolling.
Nevertheless, it seems that the main obstacle for recruiters lies in reaching the over-65 demographic. Eligible persons are simply being overlooked by current recruitment methods such as newspaper articles and radio advertisements. At CitrusLabs, we use a bold new approach to address this issue. We build smartphone apps targeted at exactly this age group then accumulate a significant and diverse user base through which we can identify, enrol and engage patients for clinical trials all processed through the app.
Crucially, we collect information on our user-base to ensure that the persons selected are only those that match the exact eligibility requirements for the specific trial. We then use the app to maintain patient engagement through the recruitment and trial stage to overcome what is another significant barrier to recruiting seniors – retention. To date, our extensive experience has seen us build a database of 500,000 users, the majority of whom are aged 65 and over, and whom represent a rich variety of medical conditions.
Apps are certainly the ideal medium through which to reach this key demographic, as the over-65’s are the fastest growing adopters of tablet PC’s.
The widespread adoption of this innovative method to recruit seniors for clinical trials will go some way to bridging the gap between the aging population and the number of seniors enrolling in clinical trials, with potentially significant increases to be made on the quality of clinical trials, and the availability of the drugs and medicine needed to sustain an aging population going forward.
If you want to know more how CitrusLabs can help you to reach the senior generation more efficiently, please get in touch.