The strategies and techniques used for recruiting patients have changed substantially given the growing engagement of patients within clinical research trials. Also, there have been dramatic changes in the very tools that patients use when they're trying to learn about trials. Keep reading to learn 5 of the best practices you can use to successfully recruit patients for your office or practice:

1) Know who your target audience is. One critical question to ask might be phrased: "What's the specific population of patients for this particular study?" Another could be: "Where would this patient population be most likely to attain their education and information?" A third good one is this: "Are these patients likely to be engaged in social media or online avenues?" Also consider just what channels do patients engage with; what kinds of HCPs can treat the particular condition in question; the optimum ways to work in conjunction with HCPs, healthy systems, and hospitals in the identification of eligible patients; and the extent to which professional allies, such as nurses, social workers, and pharmacists, might be involved in the treatment of the condition in question. If the trial is abroad you may need to take cultural aspects into consideration and if it’s in a different language life sciences translation services could be a necessity.

2) Create a promotional plan that is heavily based on the known preferences of target audiences. It needs to include outreach efforts to both advocacy groups and HCPs. Your promotional plan should also involve numerous media channels, covering radio and TV, print, and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

3) Identify screening mechanisms to sort prospective patients. Once potential patients are identified, you need a screening process in place, which can be implemented through a study website, an interactive voice response system, or even a dedicated call centre. Both the exclusion and inclusion criteria of the study should be evaluated in any screening process. Figure out if HCPs like skilled nurses are necessary for more complex pre-screening, should extensive medical knowledge be required. Also factor in the possibility of multilingual communication being necessary. Is so, the pre-screening questionnaire should be translated. Also, consider partnering up with any pharmaceutical call centre offering multilingual operators.

4) Accelerate the process which refers patients to a study site. After an initial screening gets completed, there should be a process in place that expediently and efficiently refers a patient to a study site for further evaluation. Numerous options exist for this, including warm transfers, where the call centre operator can start up three-way calling that connects a prospect to their closest available research site. Appointment scheduling is another possibility, where site appointment openings are listed in a database the call centre can use to schedule something immediately. Appointment confirmation materials are another good idea, as these can include the time and date of an appointment, driving or transportation directions, pre-visitation instructions, and general information about the study.

5) Put a system in place to patient referrals can be tracked for following up. Once a patient gets referred to a particular study site, it's crucial that the site quickly contacts them for further evaluation and potential study enrollment. Expedient follow-through and appointments getting scheduled to require the right system and process. Online solutions that track patient progression starting with referral and ending with enrollment are good ideas. A study site could have an online portal that lets them see what patients are referred to their particular site, providing information on the larger enrollment process. Portals need to be secured and HIPAA-compliant. Online systems mean that an underperforming site gets identified quickly so that necessary resources can be reallocated to it. A sponsor could even analyze how many patients didn't get through screening, making necessary adjustments to exclusion and inclusion criteria. Any patient recruitment initiative which incorporates these five areas is going to speed up the timeline for patient recruitment and boost the chances of a patient enrollment quota being successfully met.

When It Comes To Retaining Patients, What Are The Best Practices?

Once a patient is enrolled in a clinical study, the focus is then on retention throughout the trial, as well as ensuring compliance. When study-related tasks and responsibilities are at the forefront of their mind, an enrolled study participant is far more likely to stay within protocol guidelines. Many potential solutions lie at your disposal here. You can ensure compliance with your study-related obligations by using reminders through telephone, mail, and email; appointment scheduling; online patient diaries; online or telephone reporting mechanism; and centralized communications for information sharing, following up, after-hours support, and rescheduling appointments.

In conclusion, recruitment, paired with retention, is crucial to the timely completion of clinical trials. Industry Standard Research pooled industry leaders in 2015 about recruiting and retaining patients, and over a quarter of them reported that the best possible practice was to use a whole basket of approaches covering many different recruitment outlets. Obviously, no individual recruitment approach works in all circumstances, but a varied mix of many different initiatives can prove successful.

If you're working in a life-science company that wants to develop and then implement initiatives to recruit and retain patients, then you need plans customized to your target group. A pharmaceutical call centre proves useful in this, given the tools and resources they have to speed up your enrollment and boost your patient retention rates.

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