Clinical trial recruitment often requires a lot of patience, time and money and recruiters who are struggling to hire at the last moment can very well bid this goodbye because it'll surely turn out to be a nightmare. It would help if you had well-planned, thoroughly researched clinical trial recruitment strategies and tools to help you through the process. Delaying patient recruitment can hamper your client's clinical research, and he/she won't be able to complete their study on time. Recruiters will need to buckle up and push against the time crunch to deliver their best in such cases.
Several clinical trial recruitment companies such as BBK Worldwide, AutoCrutiment, ClinicalConnection, Clariness, TrialSpark etc. help researchers get suitable patients according to their trial's needs. Sometimes they even pay for services such as— choosing the right location for the study, prescreening patients and so on. Here, below we've mentioned some of the challenges faced during clinical trial recruitment.
4 Prime Clinical Trial Recruitment Challenges
80% of clinical studies are delayed or stopped completely owing to recruiting problems! Find out what are some of the major clinical trial recruitment challenges that recruiters will need to overcome.
1. Major Time Crunch
Last minute patient recruiting is the worst step a recruiter could take. Most of the clinical studies have strict eligibility criteria, which makes it a bit hard on an agency recruiter's part since they need to enrol a sufficient number of participants for a study. This unavailability of spare time can lead to the fundamental research being called off or cost thousands of dollars.
Delays can result in costing sponsors between $600,000 and $8 million each day that a trial withholds from developing.
2. Most Of The Patients In Your Pipeline Aren't Qualified
Throughout the world, clinical trial protocols are getting stricter. For instance, if your client asks you to look for patients with a rare type of blood group, that might be difficult since sometimes the patients are withheld from such information, leading to delays in recruitment.
3. Patients Drop Out Even Before The Trial Begins
There are many reasons why your patients might decide not to join the clinical trial. Firstly, he/she might live far away from the site. Secondly, they might miss their second screening process just because they lost interest or due to lack of communication, and thirdly, your outreach efforts are not generating enough interest. As a result, motivation levels could drop, leading to a negative experience with your agency.
4. Poor Patient Retention Rate
It's not unknown that one of the critical factors determining whether you've been successful in recruiting is the retention rate. The failure to retain patients can negatively affect a clinical trial or a study and its data. If you don't take out the time to learn about the patients, you're hiring and communicate with them throughout the process, and there's a high chance this might end up failing.
Did you know? Clinical trials account for about 40% of the US pharma research budget, totalling around $7 billion per year. The estimated expense of patient recruitment is 40% of the total budget!
How To Hire For A Clinical Trial? Here Are 4 Best Ways
Before diving deep into recruitment, you need to know what's in it for the patients apart from the compensation. The patient's voice is included in a study's design that lets you understand whether the patient is an ideal fit for a virtual trial or a traditional one. This is done to see if you're meeting real patient needs.
1. Start Your Recruiting Process By Collaborating With Your Local Health Care Provider & NGOs
To start a patient-centric approach to recruitment, the best possible way to go about it would be working alongside your local health care provider. Patients would indeed prefer to hear about clinical trials from their clinic than from a recruitment agency. What are some of the best possible ways to do this?
- Create brochures, handbooks, leaflets and several outreach materials that can be handed out to patients who visit the clinic
- Discuss everything about the clinical trial you're hiring for with the doctors so that they can help the patients understand the same
- Start campaigns with NGOs and local communities
The foremost thing to keep in mind is how to build trust in them. Patients are more likely to believe in a valuable source than random advertisements.
2. Run Digital Advertising Campaigns
Another great clinical trial recruitment strategy would be to reach out to these candidates online. It will allow your recruitment agency to look for patients on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit...you name it! 3.5 billion social media users scroll the web daily, making sense why recruiters will need to add this as a part of their sourcing strategy. Who knows, you might end up hiring a patient who was actively searching for treatment options for a similar field?
The rise of virtual trials owing to the Covid-19 pandemic has been changing the face of clinical trial recruiting. This makes it easier and safer for the patients to participate in a trial while being comfortable at their residence. While technological advances will play a key role here, these kinds of virtual trials will bring more patients to your table. Market your virtual clinical trial accordingly on social media and measure the outcome.
3. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
As mentioned earlier, this is one of the significant reasons why recruiters face challenges along the way. Maintaining communication throughout is necessary when it comes to hiring. If you don't update the patient on the first, second or sometimes even the third screening processes they need to go to, they will lose interest and eventually drop out. Use an Applicant Tracking System and a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) software to keep track. Automate the entire sourcing and follow-up process to save yourself time, energy and money. Being proactive across your recruitment funnel will make sure you're successful in providing a positive candidate experience.
4. The Screening Processes Must Run Smoothly
Any form of mild or severe hassle during screening processes makes patients drop out of the clinical study. Since 85% of clinical trials fail to retain enough patients till the end and the average dropout rate is 30%, it's highly essential to make sure your screening processes are smooth, comfortable and uncomplicated. Just like the previous point mentioned, this can lead to a negative candidate experience too.
Apart from the pointers mentioned above, it's imperative to keep the following in mind:
- Build a targeted patient model
- Evaluate the study requirements properly
- Be open and transparent
- There should be support available all the time to address their questions
- Make your recruiting approach diverse in nature
- If you're hiring for multiple clinical trials at the same time, make sure your team of agency recruiters is rock solid
- Do not reach out to patients who don't match eligibility criteria. When you do so and end up disqualifying them, it costs your client's company and makes the patient nervous enough to take part in the future. It's advisable to collaborate with various labs and Electronic Health Record (EHR) companies with access to patient data. Thus, reaching out to qualified patients will save time.
Let us know in the comments below if you would love to discuss any other points. We're open to receiving your feedback.