Post-COVID-19 Patient Recruitment: Dealing with the Aftermath
Clinical trial recruitment has been understandingly difficult for the past fifteen months. Isolation and quarantine have kept patients (not to mention site and trial staff) from being able to undergo appropriate screening and enrollment measures. Because of this immense issue, many trials have been paused (or worse, stopped all together). Now that the world is reopening and taking a sigh of apprehensive relief, how do we get back on track to begin moving full steam ahead for patient recruitment?
The CDC has recently announced the laxing of many COVID-19 restrictions, including vaccinated individuals no longer requiring masks and indoor/outdoor capacity maximums increasing. While this is a positive move forward as the world gets a better handle on the pandemic, there are still apprehensions and concerns on the forefront of everyone’s minds. Is this really safe? Should we actually return to the normalcy of pre-COVID? Are sites set up to handle the world opening back up?
Recruitment Concerns at the Site Level
Addressing these concerns as a site is difficult, demonstrated by global clinical trial completion rates dropping to 13-23%1. Managing multiple trials and recruitment efforts even before the pandemic was quite a task for study coordinators, and this new pile of issues being thrown at them today makes things even more difficult. Studies are opening back up at once and sites are struggling to balance them all. Study coordinators and PIs desperately need a strong support system to overcome these hurdles, as many sites face the staffing losses they experienced throughout the pandemic.
Increasing Recruitment and Enrollment Numbers Post-COVID-19
This shift back to a new normal has many sites and sponsors wondering what they should do to get their studies back on track. If you find yourself falling into this category, know that you aren’t alone. Over the past few months, our team has seen similar challenges across all studies we are supporting:
- • sites are struggling to find the time to recruit for all of their studies
- • patients are hesitant to come into the office for their visits
- • some sites are still working remotely and unable to see patients
To overcome these challenges, CSSi has helped our clients focus on the following:
- • providing a resource to the sites that can assist with all recruitment tasks (either remotely or on-site)
- • speaking with patients about the COVID protocols in place at each site to ensure their safety is a top priority (mask wearing, disinfecting, social distancing, etc.)
- • pre-recruiting patients and staying connected with interested individuals until sites open back up for screening and study visits
Dedicated Recruitment Support Through CSSi
One of the biggest challenges that we are seeing is the lack of resources at the site level to dedicate to patient recruitment– both in staff and time. Study coordinators are juggling many studies all re-opening at once and their attention is getting pulled in many directions. Sites need a dedicated resource to help them manage recruitment efforts for their studies.
CSSi is prepared to address the evolving patient recruitment support needed for both domestic and international clinical trials. Our full-service model provides a suite of services to make your study top-of-mind and answer the recruitment needs of all sites: patient and physician-facing recruitment material development, study website and pre-screener development, digital/social media and traditional advertising placement, and customized site support by our Local Enrollment Specialists. Our LES team can assist with referral management (patient follow-up, secondary patient pre-screening, study visit scheduling, reminder calls and more), chart reviews, medical professional outreach, community awareness, and advocacy outreach. We are set up to either provide a full-service program for your studies or use a plug and play model to fill in any gaps to your current recruitment strategy. Our ultimate goal is to make your study a priority at each site we support and to ease the recruitment burden on the study coordinator, so their attention can be devoted to other important study tasks.
Setting your sites up with support from CSSi will lead to an increase in site engagement, study interest and referrals/randomized patients. We understand the challenges facing researchers and clinical sites today no longer mirror the world fifteen months ago, and our team is prepared to provide the solutions you need to overcome them.
If your studies and sites are significantly affected by the pandemic and need support, reach out to CSSi today.