Recruitment and retention of patients are one of the largest barriers standing in the way of successful clinical trials. 75 percent of clinics fail to enroll their target number of subjects, and 90 percent of all clinical trials worldwide fail to enroll patients within the target amount of time (source for both). Understanding how your site is performing in both of these areas — and identifying new ways to conquer both — is critical information for your research team.
You can use two strategies when it comes to inquiring about patients. The first strategy involves casting a large net for general symptoms and for studies not requiring diagnosis or documentation of events. This helps you reach a large number of potential subjects. The second strategy, often referred to as “Rod and Reel”, focuses on studies with strict exclusionary criteria (e.g., no history of type 2 diabetes, or excludes patients with a history of cardiovascular disease). Reach out to participants through a variety of contact methods and use bulk email when you can. Casting a wide net and targeting specific participants will help you attract a variety of participants.
Recruiting with a CTMS allows you to track your metrics and base decisions on what’s working and what’s not. It also helps manage and nurture subjects, allowing organizations to manage participants in one centralized location. You can also use a CTMS to create milestone enrollment goals and check enrollment progress for all studies at your site. This allows you to focus on and prioritize recruitment efforts. Tracking your recruitment efforts and outcomes can play a strategic role in deciding how to recruit for future trials.
Successful retention begins with nurturing your subject and making them feel like a patient. Create personal notes and comments in your CTMS, like “[patient name] loves talking about his dog, Otis.” When you communicate with your subjects, either as a visit reminder or thanking them for attending, refer to your comments and notes in your data management software. This helps build and nurture your relationship. Schedule milestone gifts related to their trial and communicate their milestones with them. Gifts like a nutrition book, water bottle, heart rate watch, fitness tracker, or yoga mat are a great way to communicate to your subject that you appreciate their involvement in the trial.