The Quickest Way to Meet Your Clinical Trial Quotas? Precision Recruitment

With patients waiting for new and better treatments and companies waiting for results, delays in clinical trials are far from ideal. And yet, here at Antidote, we receive calls and emails every day from researchers who are missing their trial’s deadlines because they’re having trouble finding patients to take part. 

The stats bear this out — nearly 80% of clinical trials are delayed or closed because of difficulty recruiting patients. It is true that clinical trial patient recruitment has never been more difficult — protocols are becoming more complex, calling for more specific patients as medications become more targeted and sophisticated. But it’s also true that there are effective ways to meet your trial quotas on time and on budget; at Antidote, we call this precision recruitment. 

Here’s how precision recruitment addresses some of the biggest issues facing researchers today: 

Patient don’t trust researchers. It is certainly the case that trust in medicine is eroding — according to one NY Times article, “great confidence in medical leaders” has fallen 39% from 1966 to 2018. But patients do trust patient communities and advocates — many of whom understand the benefits of research. Precision recruitment involves working with these communities and advocates to not only find the right patients, but to develop messaging that will resonate with them in a world where myths about medical research abound.

Researchers are looking for very specific patients. It’s not uncommon to see eligibility criteria that involve very specific lab values, or a long list of common comorbidities that would render a patient ineligible. What researchers need is more data on potential participants. Precision recruitment involves developing detailed prescreeners that patients can understand — and engaging with labs to get the details that patients may not even know about themselves. 

Researchers waste time screening ineligible patients. Single-trial recruitment is the standard today, but it has one major flaw: the likelihood of a patient qualifying for the trial is low, and if they’re not eligible, there is no next step. It’s a bad experience for patients, and a waste of time and resources for researchers. Precision recruitment involves leveraging technology that can screen patients across multiple trials in a particular trial program, addressing that one major flaw while providing a better patient experience in the process.

Researchers at the sponsor level aren’t sure what’s happening at the site level. Sponsors put their trust in sites to execute their studies from recruitment to completion, but sometimes they’re not aware of site progress, or site challenges. Precision recruitment involves personalized site follow-up, which provide sponsors with insights on how sites are doing, and can allow for outreach optimization based on site performance. 

Clinical research isn’t easy, but by making use of the best strategies for effective clinical trial patient recruitment, researchers can meet their trial quotas and ensure their studies stay on time and on budget.