An Easier Way to Fill up Clinical Trials

by Sai Hemchandra

The challenges of patient enrollment for clinical trials have always been a daunting task for recruiters, especially when the patient community is not aware of potential trial participation options. Only an insignificant percentage of eligible patients participate in trials (hindering factors include distance to investigation site, time, frequency of visits, waning interest after a few visits, etc).

There have been reported successes on creating a database of patients and using it for recruitment to other trials at reduced costs. A simple model would be to create a database of prospective and potential patients and use the database to solicit patient concurrence for considering them for other potential trials as well, which is what our very own Volunteer Registry will provide.

The model can also engage a two-pronged approach. Recruiters can identify prospect population and develop a database. Once prospects are in a database, they can be encouraged and enabled to locate trials where they could possibly be potential candidates. This will not only quickly populate database, but also have a ready, willing and motivated pool of patients available. This can improve patient availability manifold.

The key factor is cost of enrollment. The cost for subsequent trial enrollment will reduce significantly, because initial screening has already been done and proximity to investigation site and ability to commute has been established. This goes a long way if the patient has to make multiple and repeated periodic visits during the duration of trials.

The patient-centric approach to patient enrollment and enabling motivated patients to sign-up for trials is a boon to clinical trials. It is, from the point of view of pharma R&D, one step closer to starting a trial earlier and cost-effectively and bringing clinical protocols to a viable conclusion.

More information on the challenges of finding volunteers and ways to increase enrollment can be found in this great article.

As mentioned above, our very own Volunteer Registry was recently added to iConnect. This will be of interest to both patients and clinical investigation agencies. In the trials registry, clinicaltrials.gov, there are more than 10,000 cancer trials currently seeking adult participants. Most of these trials will fail to enroll a single subject, and some will only reach half of the minimum requirement. This new iConnect feature will enable prospective patients register online, as well as set a precursor to getting the patients to all available and appropriate trials. Patients will be able to go on the site and sign up as a volunteer for clinical trials to contribute and pioneer to groundbreaking drug development studies. Once signed up, patient will receive an email from iConnect, notifying them of a possible trial match and proceed to place patient and investigator in contact.

On the other side, this feature will facilitate physicians and investigation sites to pre-screen and recruit patients for clinical trials, from pool of available patients based on protocol characteristics like age, gender, location, etc. Investigators can search a pool of patients signed up as volunteers and contact the ones that match their respective criteria through iConnect.

In the end, the patients who push for participation will cause a direct progression in the medical field.

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