Patient recruitment is one of the bigger obstacles researchers have to face when it comes to medical research. Think of it this way, without patient recruitment, new solutions can’t be made. If patient recruitment can’t meet the deadline of the research, the whole study is delayed. That’s how crucial it is to the process!
And yet, more than ¾ of clinical trials are delayed because of the lack of patients participating in the study. The struggle is real! Why is patient recruitment so hard and what can we do about it? Let’s break it down!
The first step to anything is awareness. However, this is a primary gap when it comes to clinical trials. Because of the lack of awareness among eligible patients, the pool of participants in which researchers gather from keeps running dry. Without knowledge of the existence of clinical trials and studies, patients can’t come forward to participate.
What can we do about this?
Two words, strategic communication. It’s not a matter of getting the word out there for a million people to hear but a matter of sending the message to those who need to hear it. This is one of the many things we can say thank you to technology for. Instead of blasting the message to the general public in hopes that someone who cares can hear it, we can now look for people who have been searching for studies to participate in and send them the message. This strategy is called “targeting” and is one of the marketing strategies done in recruiting patients online.
It can get discouraging for patients to participate in clinical trials if they have to fly just to get to the clinic or if it involves having to drive interstate. This is also why, even with the current pool of eligible patients hospitals may have at hand, there are simply not enough patients participating in trials. As much as patients do want to explore advance treatment, they also have to think of feasibility. How often do they have to be in the clinic? How many plane rides will that be? Are they willing to drive for hours at a time to be part of the trial? A lot of patients pass up on the opportunity to participate because of geographical location.
What can we do about this?
There are different ways we can “target” patients online and one of them is by filtering them according to geographical location - a.k.a: “geo-targeting!” Geo-targeting makes it easier for patients within a certain radius to find you. Through this technique, we can ensure to tap on the people who are eligible and geographically within reach. That way, conducting the study can be feasible for both the researchers and the patients.
Another setback we currently face when it comes to patient recruitment is the lack of physician involvement in the patient recruitment process. Physicians have direct and close relations to their patients. When physicians are made aware of the various ongoing clinical trials, they’ll be able to assess which patients are eligible to participate. However, because patient recruitment has been a clinic to patient strategy, there’s a gap where the physicians should be. And this gap either causes the study to be delayed because of the lack of patients or the surplus of ineligible patients.
That’s the thing eligibility is something physicians are supposed to be discussing with the patients based on the study’s inclusion and exclusion.
Let’s take a quick walk in the shoes of the patients, it’s hard enough to stay hopeful and find support for what their going through, even more when you’re given hope to participate in a study then be disqualified because of ineligibility. The reason assessments exist is so recruiters can get a comprehensive background of the patient’s medical history and condition.
What can we do about it?
In a nutshell, trust recruiters who have thorough assessments! There’s no point in getting the hopes of a patient up and taking it away from them every time they realize they’re ineligible. When you trust a recruiter who takes pre-screening and assessments seriously, they’ll make sure to have all your details and take them into consideration before even tapping you to participate in a study.
Does patient recruitment really have to be so hard? Not really. Talk to the people who want to help. Talk to those who put you first. What can we do about it? Educate.
There’s a large gap between patients and researchers mainly because of the stigma clinical researches have. Care Clinique lets you build relationships with your patients ensuring their wellbeing at the forefront of your study.
Clinical researches are forward strides for the whole world and we need all hands on deck to make this accessible for as many people as possible.
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