Recruiting for Trials During a Global Pandemic
The COVID-19 virus has significantly changed the way the world operates. It has caused unprecedented interruptions to many industries and businesses around the globe, and clinical trials are no exception. New guidelines have been issued by the FDA regarding clinical trials, which could have a significant impact on study enrollment and patient retention.
Over the past several weeks, many clinical trials have had a suspension or delay in enrollment due to concerns of the spread of the pandemic and the safety of those involved. While the enrollment of some trials has been paused, some trials that have been actively enrolling are continuing to do so.
Whether the trials are actively enrolling or pausing enrollment, clinical trial sites, sponsors, CROs, and other key stakeholders should continue to move forward with efforts that lead us to needed therapies and treatments.
With no approved vaccine or treatment available for this virus, the global pandemic we are all facing has raised awareness around clinical trials and their importance considerably. The pharmaceutical industry can leverage this raised awareness to continue recruiting for both paused and currently enrolling studies.
We are all longing for the day when things return to “normal.” It may not be the normal we all have previously known, but things will operationalize again. Sites will reopen, and study volunteers will be needed. To use the time we have now most effectively, we recommend the following strategies that will keep your studies “ready to go” when life returns to “normal.”
Many sites have the patients they need within their database, but they do not always have the time to dedicate to thorough chart reviews. While things may be somewhat slower at sites, they can spend time going through charts to find eligible patients.
Patient Database Messaging
Sites can send messages out to their patient database, either via email or through their patient portal if they have one. Use this avenue to provide patients already enrolled study updates or send alerts to potential patients informing them of studies taking place at the site.
Build Relationships with National Advocacy Organizations
National advocacy organizations have many available outlets for communicating with their members. Spend time building relationships with the organizations specific to your study’s therapeutic area or indication and ask them to share your study information with their following. They are a trusted source of information for patients, and an invaluable resource to your study.
Many are at home due to shelter-in-place orders from their government. They are plugged into their TVs, their radios, and their phones. They are spending hours on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Advertising can be a very effective tool for getting your study in front of the right audience.
Register Patients into a Retention Program
For patients already enrolled in studies, it will be important to keep them engaged and retained throughout the study’s duration. Consider registering them into a patient-centric platform that will send them important study information and automated visit reminders.
Working through this process now will put your study in a place for optimal enrollment success when things normalize. Planning now will make for a smooth transition and will keep sites focused on your study.
Have studies facing this situation and need support with these activities? CSSi can assist you with outlining and implementing a recruitment strategy!