How Can I Engage Geographically Dispersed Clinical Trial Patients?

There is one piece of clinical trial participant data that has long been an enormous concern for research leadership – 70% of potential clinical trial patients live more than two hours from a site. This constraint has challenged recruitment and retention efforts for clinical research sites of all sizes and in all areas of the nation. However, increased site capabilities for and sponsor support of decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) mitigates the most common participant hurdle – location.  With physical distance challenges lifted, DCTs increase the pool of candidates and the number of qualified trial participants, no matter where an actual site is located. So how do sites take advantage of the geographical dispersed patient outreach opportunities afforded by DCT deployment?

  • Rethink Recruitment. Considering recruitment strategies specifically for geographically dispersed prospects is a critical first step to deploying DCT’s. Sites need to make sure their website is built for positive mobile engagement. Sites should have a clear call to action upon load, be easy to navigate, and optimize ease of patient response. Recruitment on location agnostic patients also relies on potentially new promotion outlets for sites like social media and email marketing. Adding these tactics to a recruitment toolbox widens the net and allows outreach to every corner of the nation or even the world. 
  • Empower Staff. Addressing the needs of geographically dispersed participants will likely be a new skill for many site team members. Ensure staff understands the diversity, logistics, and other patient-centric issues of DCT deployment. Having clinical staff that mirrors patient populations not only helps patients feel more comfortable during the trial, but engages different points of view that can help identify and address potential issues or opportunities among participants regardless of where they live. 
  • Leverage Available Technologies. In order to capitalize on a wider net of possible trial participants, clinical sites must embrace the myriad of technologies that make DCTs possible. A texting-enabled CTMS allows updates and other communication delivery to geographically dispersed or isolated participants with the “push of a button.” Similarly, eClinical applications empower a site to increase accuracy of information, efficiency of data gathering and sharing, and ease of regulatory management with integrated tools that support staff, patients, and operations. Remote management and monitoring are key to DCT success so having the right tools is critical. 
  • Enhance Connectivity. DCT study signups will naturally make more use of web and mobile offerings, especially during recruitment. Ensure these outlets seamlessly connect to a CTMS so prospects are automatically recorded. The most powerful CTMS ensures this type of connectivity and provides analytics to measure how online efforts are improving your recruitment goals. Automated systems also allow planning for the entire trial protocol so all patients receive reminders and other communications easily with less staff time.
  • Consider Operational Adjustments. On-site trial protocol non-compliance, one of the top deficiencies found in FDA audits, opens the door for more prospect or patient attrition. This challenge has the potential to be exacerbated in DCT deployment because of the loss of face-to-face communications. To alleviate this problem, set up real-time alerts within each trial to track document expiration, version changes, drug disbursement, and procedure updates. This attention to detail is possible through CTMS software, and allows staff to better manage patients in all locations. 

Learn more about how to Create New Opportunities with Decentralized Trials in our latest resource guide. Or, if you need help selecting the right system to support decentralized management, request a demo of our powerful CTMS and eClinical solutions. 

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