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How DCT partners are modernizing patient recruitment

April 13, 2023

When designing any clinical trial, it is crucial to build a recruitment strategy that is executable and effective. With decentralized trials offering so much optionality these days, developing a successful recruitment strategy can seem overwhelming. 

To mitigate the challenges of trying to figure out which features are best for which study, sponsors can leverage the expertise of a DCT partner experienced in designing and executing fit-for-purpose recruitment strategies across a  variety of trial settings. Whether it’s finding participants with acute illness for a large diagnostic trial or enrolling oncology patients in a mental health digital therapeutics study, the right DCT partner can offer flexible recruitment strategies that cater to the type of trial and overall goals a sponsor has while efficiently expanding a study’s reach. A well-experienced partner can offer the insights, data, and historic success needed to build fit-for-purpose recruitment plans that are flexible enough to accommodate and adapt to any trial. 

Expertly targeted patient recruitment strategies give sponsors the ability to reach diverse patient populations while mitigating participation challenges such as language barriers, geography, travel time, etc. Modernizing recruitment in clinical trials means DCT partners are able to give sponsors the ability to choose the best recruitment approach for their study without compromising on quality or cost. 

Reaching the right populations has historically been an obstacle to enrollment. Identifying the desired patient population for a trial is important, but designing a trial that allows them to participate can be a challenge. The key to expanding access to eligible populations is knowing how to combine optimized tactics that identify ideal participants, intercept and inform them, and allow them to enroll in the trial and participate, all while mitigating common participation barriers such as language, distance, resources, costs, time-consumption, etc. 

Choosing the right recruitment approach

There are numerous approaches to clinical trial recruitment and execution, some more costly or time-consuming than others, and it is important to note that studies often utilize more than one recruitment tactic at a time. The key to successful recruitment is having the resources and expertise to execute optimized campaigns that give patients convenient ways to learn about and enroll in a study. 

Site-based recruitment

This model activates participating sites to recruit patients into studies during appointments or walk-in visits at the site, or via flyers, emails, or phone calls to patients within the site’s database. This type of strategy is ideal for trials looking to reach patients with rare, chronic, complex, or acute conditions that require in-person medical attention. This type of recruitment strategy also allows sponsors to bring their trials to where patients are located by equipping research-naive care facilities such as pediatric offices, urgent cares, specialty clinics, and primary care practices with the tools, training, and technologies necessary to participate in clinical research that otherwise would be conducted at an academic center or hospital. 

Direct-to-patient recruitment 

This strategy uses digital advertising campaigns to optimize the targeting of specific demographic and geographic audiences on intentionally selected online platforms. In this approach, patients can either be directed to websites where they can screen, consent, and enroll in purpose-built recruitment workflows or be directed to physical site locations depending on a study's requirements. Clinical trial recruitment software (or patient recruitment software) that is part of an all-in-one decentralized clinical trial platform, is essential to this model since identifying and screening patients is one step of the recruitment process. Common use cases include liquid biopsy diagnostics, oncology diagnostics, as well as other diagnostic clinical trials, often where patients are able to identify their own likelihood to qualify for participation and interact with a recruitment ad accordingly. 

Many DCT trials incorporate at-home care options to offer patients more convenient ways to participate in their trials. A study may not require any in-person patient interactions so a home-based model may be leveraged to recruit patients using a geographically broad direct-to-patient strategy that then allows patients to enroll, consent, and participate entirely through telemedicine. It is important to have a DCT partner that can offer recruitment strategies compatible with the type of trial being conducted. 

Click here to learn more about designing a modernized DCT study.

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