How to Boost Patient Recruitment in Clinical Trials using iConnect 2.0 Patient Referrals?
by Shweta Mishra
iConnect 2.0 is a specifically designed online platform that facilitates patient-recruitment for academic medical centers, sponsors, and patient advocacy groups.
iConnect 2.0 helps overcome challenges of patient recruitment in clinical trials by:
- Creating a centralized, up-to-date listing of trials within an organization using its Clinical Trial Import Services. This makes it easy for a user to find a clinical trial. iConnect can load clinical trials data:
- From clinical trial management systems (CTMS) of organizations, IRB System, or directly from clinicaltrials.gov website
- Post trials through iConnect API
- Login to iConnect dashboard of Administrators/Investigators and add studies there.
- Employing semantic search technology. Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher’s intent and allowing patients to search trials using layman terms or medical terminologies like Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). This technology generates more relevant search results by understanding the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace.
- Making trial page content patient-friendly and editable without IT support. Once patients get the list of clinical trials, they can click on that trial link to check if the trial is still recruiting and if they are eligible for that trial, along with other specific details. Patients can contact the trial investigator, and write their concerns in a message, which is answered within 48 hours either via email or phone call, whatever the patient prefers.
- Getting real-time recruitment status dashboard: TrialX iConnect also provides the investigators with a dashboard showing status of all of their trials, which can be edited with patient friendly descriptions and relevant and engaging images. Researchers can also get a trend of visitors over a period of time, such as, top trials viewed and top searches performed by visitors over a period of time by clicking on the Visitor Stats Tab
- 360 Degree Tracking & Reporting at the Patient, Site, Study and Enterprise level: If researchers have advanced access to their institutions iConnect, they can monitor and stay informed about the status of all the trials in other departments in their institution, such as, total number of site visitors, trial pages viewed and searches performed in a particular time period. This helps researchers help their peers in recruiting patients for their clinical trials, making the patent recruitment process more efficient.
- Increasing online outreach of clinical trials helping patients and doctors be more aware of ongoing studies.
- Having the provision of building a user friendly clinical study specific websites. iConnect can help researchers
- With overall look and feel of clinical study page
- By presenting clinical trial information in a user friendly language.
iConnect 2.0 referral features specifically helps researchers boost recruitment by allowing to:
- Make communication with referrals and volunteers easy with its Volunteer Registry and Patient Notifications feature.
- Volunteer Registry feature helps patients get enrolled as a volunteer, in case they do not find a trial matching their medical condition. Investigators can search volunteers from this registry by condition/age/gender/zip code to match them to available clinical trials.
- Through the Patient Notification feature, these patients get notified when a new trial matching the medical condition becomes available. Patients can choose email notification checkbox on Volunteer register form to get notified about new trials.
- Track the status of each patient referral: Researchers can view all patient referrals, number of patients that have been followed up, screened, and recruited using the Referral Stats tab under Reports button. Using the Call Stats tab under Reports button they can even monitor the number of patients that called to inquire about a particular clinical trial per month.
Patient recruitment remains to be the biggest challenge in success of clinical trials. There are several reasons behind this:
- It is often difficult for patients to locate a clinical trial.
- Patients may reside far from study centers; even the largest multicenter trials can pose geographical challenges for those who wish to participate.
- Patients often are unaware of the possibility of enrolling in a clinical trial.
- Most patients look up to their doctors or nurses to get clinical trials information. However, doctors and nurses are ill-informed about the availability of clinical trials that their patients can enroll in.
Patient referral systems which can be used by organizations to boost recruitment is not being utilized to its full potential since organizations are not aiding their physicians and nurses with adequate tools. A recent analysis by Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSSD) shows that even though many providers are more than willing to refer their patients to relevant clinical trials, the lack of information and poor communication from sponsors, CROs and sites discourage them from doing so.
In order to make patient referrals more frequent and easier the sponsors, CROs and clinical trial sites should:
- Improve communication with care providers who come in contact with patients on a daily basis.
- Share sufficiently detailed information about their clinical trials with primary physicians and other care providers, so that they have a realistic understanding of the complexities of trials, and feel confident in forwarding the information to their patients. The way the clinical trial information and education is imparted, influences the patient’s decision to participate.
- Provide handouts/leaflets with clinical trial information which the doctors and nurses can give to their patients to take away to read and understand at their leisure. Since doctors and other hospital staff have to deal with a variety of patients with different levels of literacy, availability of easy-to-understand leaflets with information presented in various languages can help boost referral counts.
- Follow-up with the physicians and nurses throughout the clinical trial and keep them updated about the status of the patients they referred. Sharing clinical trial results with referees can increase the possibility of future referrals.
Our iConnect team is supporting major health organizations such as BIDMC, NYU and UPENN to meet their patient recruitment needs.