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How is Technology Used in Patient Recruitment and Engagement During Clinical Trials?

Clinical trial patients/subjects are the building blocks for any clinical trial study.  It is on them that the entire research and development is based upon, tested, and approved for mass generalization. Because of their criticality, the success of clinical trials is hugely dependent on patient recruitment and retention.

Data reveals that 85% of clinical trials fail to recruit enough clinical trial volunteers, while 80% of these clinical trials fail execution within the allotted time. It is also reported that a ~30% average patient dropout rate has been witnessed across the clinical trial phases.

With the sudden arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and hospital visits becoming a scary affair even for clinical trials. Despite the constraints, the sponsors and CROs found innovative ways to involve direct-to-patient approaches for patient recruitment and retention in the clinical trials.

Hereby, the major role is being played by digitization and technology advancement to ensure easy processes of virtual trials, especially in operating patient recruitment, and engagements.

How can technology ease the patient recruitment process?

Traditionally, clinical trials heavily relied on paperwork, and less importance was given to patient engagement. However, changing clinical trial requirements, the clinical trial landscape, competition, and technology interventions made it possible to bring in a personalized and digitalized patient-centric approach to clinical trials.

Let’s take a more in-depth look.

1. How to use artificial intelligence for patient recruitment in a clinical trial?

As we all know, recruitment is not just the most time-consuming step in a clinical trial but also the most expensive. the process is complex and tiresome with high chances of patient drop-out.

However, these issues can be resolved with the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP). NLP is a technology that enables a computer to analyze written or spoken words. When adopted in clinical trials, NLP can be used to develop algorithms that can interpret doctor’s notes and pathology reports of patients. 

This will accelerate the process for patient recruitment and increase the efficiency of clinical trials with the recruitment of the most appropriate candidates.

2. How can mobile-technology improve patient engagement and reduce patient drop-out rates in clinical trials?

The availability of new technologies like patient portals, sensors, and different apps offers better access to patients engagement. They can now use their clinical trial/wearable medical devices to log their health information without visiting hospitals, scheduling appointments, or requesting prescription refills.

This technology also has facilitated new channels for communications between patients and researchers involved in the clinical trial study including chatbots. For example, one of the common causes of patient dropouts is forgetting appointments.

Through their wearable medical devices, clinical trial patients can get reminders for attending a meeting or taking medication on time. They can also access clinical trial study information or educational information regarding the treatment plan or ask questions.

Another amazing technological advancement in patient recruitment in clinical trials is remote patient monitoring apps.  They enable remote monitoring of patients ( patients who stay far from the trial sites) and maintaining all the data related to them along with continuous interactions and communications.

Such convenient and unobtrusive virtual trials can help reduce dropout rates and boost enrolment.

3. How does centralized platform help in the collaboration and collection of data during clinical trials?

From smartphone apps to gadgets and gizmos, technology is at the heart of clinical trials. One such advanced usage was discovered as ‘Virtual Clinical Trials’. The virtual clinical trial, though invented early, found immense adaptability in the recent pandemic situation with constrained one-to-one personal patient engagement.

A centralized repository also enables data collection at lightning speed. Often, it can be collected and sent for analysis simultaneously, automating the whole process of data collection and analysis in the clinical trial.

With centralized platforms in place, data can travel beyond geographical boundaries, thus fostering better collaboration among all stakeholders of the clinical trial and improving patient recruitment as a whole.

This is made easy with integrated clinical trial management solutions (CTMS) solutions. It offers a real-time centralized data overview with multiple smart features like mobile-configurability, globally apt features, flexibility, scalability, ease of use, among others.

4. How can CROs, sponsors, or researchers streamline clinical patient recruitment, technologically?

Patient recruitment is always challenging in clinical trials. But with technology by your side, it is possible to streamline recruitment efforts. For example, if you’re running more than one clinical trial parallelly for a related condition, consider portfolio-level recruitment. In simple words, it means you reach out to a larger audience with a certain condition and recruit them for both clinical trials simultaneously.

Integrated CTMS solutions are digitally enabled to upload seamless volunteer data and segregate the study plans and details subject-wise. Automatic roll-up features, drag and drop, multi-linguistic facilities facilitate easy patient recruitment campaigns across geographies.

You can then determine which clinical trial the patient fits in better. Multi-trial matching can be achieved by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. This will save time and resources and enhance the patient experience by helping clinical trial patients narrow down options where they want to participate. Additionally, the likelihood of eligibility for a clinical trial is also increased.

Wrapping Up

Patient recruitment and engagement are some of the most important yet most complex responsibilities in clinical trials. But with sophisticated technologies at the disposal, sponsors and CROs are a step closer to see more success in patient recruitment and engagement.

Know that technology has many impacts on a clinical trial, patient recruitment being just one of them.

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