• Joanna Thomson

Patient recruitment 101: how to pre-screen candidates for clinical trials


Whether it’s through online surveys or telephone interviews, pre-screening is one of the most important stages of the clinical trial recruitment process. The pre-screen allows research sites to fully determine a candidate’s eligibility and assess their suitability for the clinical trial at hand. While most research sites are well aware of the pre-screening process, what many don’t realise is that their metrics may not be as efficient as they could be.


With 86% of clinical trials failing to meet recruitment targets every year, research sites everywhere are wasting both time and resources that could be essential to the trial’s success. While traditional pre-screening metrics (i.e. paper questionnaires and in-clinic interviews) are obviously an effective way of collecting data, they are by no means efficient. Both require significant investments of time from both staff and patients and this not only proves costly to research sites, but it could also deter potential participants from registering.


Fortunately, technology could hold the key to optimizing the entire process.


With the impact of COVID-19 encouraging more people to use tech to communicate with loved ones, and approximately 4.57 billion people now online, pre-screening candidates digitally has never been easier. The potential benefits of more sites adopting these methods are significant. Let’s explore the main advantages of using technology in pre-screening:


1. Save on staff


It’s simple: when patients are screened remotely, there isn’t a reason for extra staff to be involved in the data-collection part of the process. Having no need to take on more employees for recruitment is a great opportunity for sites to streamline operations and make savings.


2. Organize, access and update information instantly


Information that is collected electronically can be stored and organized in seconds. Not only that, but this information can also be organized with far more specific criteria than the same data collected manually. Once information is stored and organized electronically, it is at your fingertips. Specific data can be recalled and viewed instantly. This saves time and effort sorting through filing cabinets and speeds up the decision making processes on participant eligibility. Information stored electronically is also easily edited or updated, and pre-screening need not be completed in one sitting if it is not possible for the patient; meaning electronic forms can be saved and then completed or updated at a later time.


3. Smoother workflow


A ‘clinical trial management system’ allows data from pre-screenings to be easily uploaded into the clinical trial’s enrollment metrics, if the patient meets eligibility requirements. This eliminates the need for further data collection as electronic forms are easily editable if amendments are necessary. Systems like patient recruitment dashboards (e.g. Citrus) make it easy for sites to keep track of all the patients in their system and the stages they are at in relation to a particular study.


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. Patient recruitment dashboards allow 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.


4. More storage


Making the transition from manual to electronic pre-screening is also an obvious space-saver. Electronic data requires almost no space, whereas paper documentation will need to be stored at your site and, if required, for long periods. With a gigabyte of data equalling around 75,000 pieces of paper storage, the average internal memory of a laptop is more than enough to meet the requirements of any clinical trial.



Here at Citruslabs, we are dedicated to keeping you up-to-date on the latest clinical trial news. 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.


Introducing Citrus


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.



Clinical trials run on Citrus.


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