Emma's Enrollment Etiquette: an Insider's Approach for Successful Recruitment - The Value of Patient Engagement
Data analytics, and the calculated metrics produced, are a major motivator in the world of clinical research. More often than not, the industry is driven by or acting in response to one metric or another. As an Enrollment Specialist, data analytics are of paramount importance when developing a successful patient recruitment campaign. Understanding these metrics prior to developing an outreach strategy to contact and enroll patients for a study is critical.
One tactic utilized by Enrollment Specialists to obtain this information is ensuring that the research sites’ databases are fully optimized, resulting in improved recruitment and enrollment for all therapeutic area studies. However, the use of quantitative metrics alone to evaluate the effect of patient-centric engagement does not allow for an accurate assessment of the intangibles obtained.
In clinical research, with specific relevance to patient engagement, it can be difficult to quantify the associated empirical value that these services deliver. Through strategic and personable interactions with clinical trial patients, Enrollment Specialists are able to evaluate pertinent information about what encourages patients to participate in clinical research, and simultaneously assess the factors that drive them to decline participation. This qualitative data, combined with the quantitative, outlines what is necessary for successful trial recruitment, enrollment, and retention.
Quantifying and Qualifying Enrollment Metrics
Trackable, tangible metrics are part of our everyday lives, 24-7, both inside and outside of the workplace. Data, in various forms, has always had the ability to influence decisions, promote change, or build new ventures. This is relevant because Enrollment Specialists are adept at conducting a detailed pre-screening conversation and converting the verbally obtained information into meaningful metrics that correspond to common failure trends or suggestions for an improved recruitment strategy. These metrics are compiled and evaluated in order to increase the connection rate with the target demographic. Patients may be more likely to participate or maintain compliance while participating in a clinical trial, knowing that their needs, values, and concerns have been validated during the pre-screening process. Additionally, reduced patient dropout rates, as a result of ongoing patient engagement, serve as a metric that can enhance the quality of data used for safety and efficacy assessments.
Through direct patient interaction, Enrollment Specialists may also help sponsors avoid future protocol amendments, saving both time and money, by identifying eligibility criteria to be re-considered in an effort to increase the number of patients able to participate. Conversely, protocol amendments can also reduce the number of patients screened and enrolled, ultimately deprecating the statistical power that sponsors and regulators seek from reported metrics. Enrollment Specialists employ several different strategies, both qualitative and quantitative, to support both patient enrollment and industry stakeholders involved in the process.
Developing a methodical approach to patient recruitment is a time-consuming process. Prior to determining what strategy to implement or how best to reach the patient, it is important to take inventory of the internal network of patients available in a site’s database. Enrollment Specialists are trained to expedite this process while accurately reviewing each patient entry.
At a clinical research site, the day-to-day operational tasks, at times, do not allow sufficient time for inspection of every patient record to ensure that the information is both correct and current. Reviewing the last dates of contact and or updating patient contact information in the portal is arduous and time intensive. Through database optimization, Enrollment Specialists are able to consolidate and refine the patient information contained in a site’s portal to more accurately reflect the true feasibility for current or future trials. Additionally, Enrollment Specialists can incorporate an outreach strategy that targets patients who have previously completed a clinical trial or who have been lost to follow up in the past. Focusing efforts on these specific groups is beneficial, as they have already expressed their interest in clinical research and may be more likely to participate again. Executing a text or email blast to these patient groups, in an effort to re-engage, is a resourceful approach and can be accomplished without incorporating any marketing tactics.
Engaging the Patient
There are numerous benefits to be achieved through patient engagement, not all of which can be adequately assessed from a financial standpoint. Although the industry-wide culture shift toward patient-centric initiatives has become increasingly more evident, there is still a palatable sense of reluctance to adopt and implement strategies that truly support the ideology. Enrollment Specialists help to address this hesitation, as they are entrusted to be the liaison between patients and site staff.
Clearly defining the relationship between a particular act of patient engagement and the changes it may or may not induce can be challenging. For perspective, here are some of the factors a patient may contemplate prior to considering clinical research participation:
- How many other patients are enrolled in the study at this time; how many more patients are needed to fulfill enrollment?
- Did the study medication in question previously have orphan drug status?
- Is there an open-label extension period?
- Does the study medication have a fast track status?
- Is the treatment being evaluated more cost-effective than the current standard of care?
- How long will it take for the study medication to become available after the trial concludes?
Providing a patient with answers to these questions and assessing how the answers may or may not affect a patient’s decision to participate is an intrinsic part of the recruitment and enrollment process. Enrollment Team members are challenged to deliver transparent study information in an effort to encourage trial participation, without being perceived as coercive. In an industry propelled by the power of metrics, it is critical to understand which metrics will empower the patient and motivate them to enroll in a clinical trial.
Power of the Patient
Collaborating as co-researchers, Enrollment Specialists and patients work together to optimize the analytics obtained through clinical trial outcomes. Enrollment Specialists are able to enrich the quality, relevance, and impact of clinical research via sustained patient recruitment, engagement, and retention services.
Are you interested in learning more about what an Enrollment Specialist can add to your team? Watch the recording of our webinar for more information:
Post by Emma Joyce -
Emma Joyce is a Senior Enrollment Specialist at ClinEdge. Emma has worked both directly and indirectly as a patient advocate, and brings her passion for finding patient’s solutions to the research community.