How Information Technology is Enhancing Clinical Trials Recruitment and Participation

Contributed by:

Jeff Meehan, Chief Commercial Officer, MD On-Line

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New platforms and technology today are able to help keep the right physicians apprised of the right open trials — communicating information efficiently across multiple locations in a large geographical area.

Pharmaceutical companies have long struggled to achieve clinical trial recruitment goals. Half of randomized clinical studies fail to recruit their target populations, and of the studies that do hit their targets only 50% do so in a timely manner.1 Recruitment failure has several repercussions, including the financial losses incurred in setting up and running the trials, trial discontinuation and lack of findings as to whether the intervention is clinically effective. Fortunately, the challenge of finding patients for these studies is diminishing with the application of new technology.

Going Straight to the Source
One must look directly to the source, healthcare providers (HCPs), to identify changes that will increase study participation. HCPs are the point of contact for enrollment — they are familiar with their patients’ demographics and ideal for helping patients get accepted. As HCPs cannot be offered incentives, other approaches must be considered. Fortunately, HCPs’ recruiting efforts are driven by altruism and other factors. Studies have shown that clinicians perceive patient recruitment for randomized controlled trials as having personal benefits, such as career development and professional recognition. Based on these findings, recruitment should walk hand and hand with efforts to communicate the many benefits, focusing on not just the patient benefit, but the personal benefits also.

Technology to the Rescue
Despite their best intentions, HCPs are limited by tight schedules and the time-consuming nature of the enrollment process. That’s where technology can come into play and help to make the process much more effective and fast. This should simplify enrollment and pave the way for increased HCP participation. Technology platforms, such as Instinctive Data’s ID Recruit, are part of an electronic data interchange/electronic medical records (EDI/EMR) system and offers access to unparalleled amounts of patient data delivered in accessible formats.

Instead of recruiting passively, these programs take a more active approach — and their extensive data help ensure that positive results are achieved. As many HCPs lack the time to sift through and match numerous patients with clinical trial possibilities, these programs incorporate clinical trial awareness into targeted communication processes to facilitate involvement in trials, by providing HCPs with the most up-to-date information in easy-to-use formats.

For example, ID Recruit has an immense database, and allows HCPs to instantaneously access all of their patient histories and have the system automatically detect eligible patients. When enrollment proves difficult, the trial sponsor can reach out and have an alert sent to physicians about relevant patient populations. HCPs are given the opportunity to have pre-generated, patient-personalized communications delivered to those patients to inform them of the study specifics and goals, and to describe how to enroll. Through Instinctive Data, ID Recruit accurately hones in on eligible patients, based on claims data, with the click of a button, and all patient information remains secured and is never shared with anyone but the HCP (adhering to HIPAA guidelines).

Active Enrollment
Systems that use active enrollment for patient recruitment have multiple benefits. First, they make locating and enrolling eligible patients incredibly easy. By making it easy to find these patients, a major stumbling block is overcome. Second, these systems eliminate much of the guesswork that HCPs might do trying to remember appropriate patient qualifications and other details — it would be impossible for HCPs to memorize their patient records for all of their patients. HCPs agree that enhancing participation in clinical trials depends on ease, approachability, and accessibility. New platforms and technology today, such as ID Recruit, are able to help keep the right physicians apprised of the right open trials — communicating information efficiently across multiple locations in a large geographical area. It’s just another way technology is helping pharmaceutical companies overcome obstacles and making study recruitment easier.

Editor’s Note: 1. Fletcher B, Gheorghe A, Moore D, et al. Improving the recruitment activity of clinicians in randomized controlled trials: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2012;2(1):e000496.
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Jeff Meehan Chief Commercial Officer MD On-Line (MDOL)

MD On-Line Inc. (MDOL) is a proven industry-leading provider of electronic healthcare solutions that leverage data to improve provider workflow and industry connectivity. For more information, visit

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