5 Ways to Make Patient Enrollment in Clinical Trials Easier

Successfully enrolling patients for a clinical trial is a daunting task, with several different steps and opportunities for patients to change their mind about participating. While the decision to participate is always completely up to the patient, a personalized approach to recruitment and enrollment, focused on the patient experience, can improve the process and make it more likely patients will choose to take part in your trial.

We have five tips to help you make patient enrollment a more manageable and meaningful task.

1. Identify a point of contact (POC). First and foremost, you should identify a central point of contact who can facilitate and manage your patient enrollment efforts. This will allow for streamlined communication between patients and research sites. The POC will be familiar with each potential and/or enrolled patient's needs. Patients will feel more confident about trial participation since they will be able to speak to someone whose sole task is to help explain the risks and benefits to them, and help determine whether or not they are eligible to participate. Taking out "the middle man," who could be anyone on any given day at your research site, will make enrollment more efficient and less burdensome on site staff.

2. Gather data. A strong enrollment strategy involves the gathering of data from past experiences. In addition to taking a look at enrollment data from previous studies, it's also important to collect qualitative data from site staff about the patient experience and look for areas for improvement. Through strategic and personable interactions with clinical trial patients, data can enhance the evaluation of what encourages patients to participate in clinical research, and simultaneously assess the factors that drive them to decline participation. This qualitative data, combined with the quantitative, can lead to more successful trial recruitment, enrollment, and retention.

3. Take a patient-centric approach. Today's patients are more informed, empowered, and vocal than ever before – as they should be! Use this ideology to your advantage when enrolling patients by emphasizing that the decision to participate or not is entirely in their hands. Patient centricity involves designing a service or solution around the patient. Patients and their caregivers to view themselves as a valuable team member and an intrinsic part of the decision-making process when considering to participate in a clinical trial, so when approaching patient enrollment, this should be taken into account.

4. Establish rapport. By engaging directly with patients in a meaningful way during the enrollment process, you will have a much better chance of breaking down barriers, reducing stigma, and exploring a full clinical trial experience. Establishing rapport with a patient (or their caregiver, in certain instances) consists of more than just providing the applicable study information needed to facilitate a discussion about their health. You should be able to initiate a conversation with a timid or skeptical patient from a place of compassion and patience, making them feel comfortable talking to you, just as easily as you can deescalate a hostile conversation with a resistant potential patient. A person who is contemplating clinical trial participation is making an important life decision; look at enrollment as an opportunity to be a part of someone's life in a positive way, and the rapport will come.

5. Advocate for patient needs. Anyone enrolling patients for a clinical trial has the opportunity to act as the liaison between the patients and site staff. They can be the voice of patients' concerns about trial participation and offer strategies that the site can use to improve the patient experience, based on feedback they hear. Pre-existing unmet needs, expressed by patients and their caregivers, provide insight into what a meaningful outcome would be for these individuals and their families. Through active ongoing engagement efforts, patient enrollment serves as an opportunity to voice patient concerns that may not otherwise be heard. As a result, understanding the patient journey and realistically examining what trial participation would require of a patient, will prove useful in identifying the prospective barriers that can prevent a study from meeting its enrollment goal.

The patient enrollment phase of a clinical trial provides a unique opportunity to co-create probable solutions with patients and, in turn, apply this information to execute a more efficient recruitment campaign. Taking a patient-centric and solution-driven approach to enrollment, aimed at generating meaningful patient outcomes, will be less stressful and will yield real world outcomes for a successful clinical trial.

About ClinEdge: ClinEdge is a comprehensive company providing services to sites and sponsors across the globe in the areas of business development, patient recruitment, patient travel, staffing, and more. Our mission is to facilitate every stage of the clinical trial process, from site selection, to staff support, to patient engagement. We believe in a shared vision of positively transforming the clinical research industry with our clients, partners, and personnel. We continue to manage our business around the evolving needs of our clients and are always looking to deepen our partnerships with candid, consistent communication.