Friday, August 23, 2013

How Information Technology Is Enhancing Clinical Trials Recruitment and Participation

Today’s guest post comes from Jeff Meehan, chief commercial officer of MD On-Line

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 percent do so in a timely manner.1 [Fletcher/p2/col 2/para 3] 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.

One must look directly to the source, health care 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.

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. The hope is that it will 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 have and offer 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 pregenerated, 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 homes in on eligible patients, based on ICD-9 codes, 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).

Systems that use active enrollment for patient recruitment have multiple benefits. First, they make locating and enrolling eligible patients incredibly easy. Second, they eliminate much of the guesswork that HCPs might do trying to remember appropriate patient qualifications and other details. 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.

Reference:
1. Fletcher B, Gheorghe A, Moore D, et al. Improving the recruitment activity of clinicians in randomised controlled trials: a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2012;2(1):e000496.




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