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Site-related factors that can impact patient recruitment

Joining a clinical study is a significant decision for anyone. Before a participant signs up for a clinical study, there are many factors that can influence how likely a patient is to take part. We have previously discussed the importance of patient engagement and the need for patient centricity as early as study planning stages. Here, in the second blog of our mini blog series, we delve deeper into site-related factors and how they can influence recruitment and retention.

Prioritise convenience during site selection

If a patient is on the fence about enrolling or continuing to take part in a clinical research study, the convenience of travel to the study site could be in a deciding factor. If a study site has poor public transport access or limited parking, the burden on patients and their family, friends and/or carers will only increase. It is burdens like this that can dampen the patient experience and result in patients dropping out. Further, even though money is not an incentive for many patients, the cost of travel and reimbursement arrangements may also play a part. So, location should definitely feature in the site selection process, and when it comes to travel, consider everything you can do to make life easier for the patients – even down to how you explain the reimbursement process.

Make sure site staff are set up to succeed

You could implement the optimal design for your study, but it’s the team at the study site who can really have the final influence on whether people choose to take part. Have you trained the study site staff so that they fully understand the protocol and the target patient population? Face to face training and printed or digital materials can be massively beneficial in ensuring study site staff are prepared for the recruitment process. Dedicated patient recruitment teams can also boost recruitment as they have the time to focus on your study and offer expertise in implementing your recruitment strategy. It is likely that healthcare professionals working at study sites are already overworked, so outsourcing patient recruitment specialists is a great option to remove burden from the site.

Utilise the latest technology

Have you considered where technology fits in with your study? If not, you could be ignoring a key factor that is impacting your study’s recruitment and retention rates. Many technology solutions are available that can improve different components of the clinical study process. Self-reported outcomes can be gathered when the patient is at home or on the go, using apps or websites. This removes burden from both the site and the patient, since the site don’t have to spend time gathering data, and patients don’t have to travel to the study site. To take pressure off patients and carers, alongside making the study data more robust, technology can be used to remind patients of appointments and treatment schedules. This can make a huge impact if patients are self-administering a clinical study treatment at home.

If you really want to go that step further, patient portals could be the solution to improve retention. A patient portal is a secure, online platform that gives patients 24-hour access to health information, such as their current medications, lab results, discharge summaries, and much more. By setting up a patient portal for you study and making sure study staff are fully trained on its features, patients will feel more engaged and more likely to continue taking part in your study. Check out our previous blog where we talk you through all the benefits of patient portals.

Optimise your supporting materials

We have already revealed the importance of recruitment materials in our previous mini blog series. But now it’s time to think about what happens to those materials once you share them with the study site. Have you also provided educational materials for the study site staff? Are staff familiar with your printed and digital patient recruitment materials and how they should be used to aid the study process? It’s crucial that the people who play a part in recruiting patients are knowledgeable on all the materials available to the patients. They need to be sharing the materials and positively referring patients to digital information and patient portals.

Taking it all on board

It’s clear from this blog that taking control of site-related factors can ultimately positively impact patient recruitment and retention. By just making a few important changes, your targets are more likely to be met and your study more likely to be a success. If you need support with anything we have highlighted here, then get in touch today.

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