Are You Giving Patients a Compelling Reason to Stay in Your Trial?

Fabian Sandoval

Fabian Sandoval, Emerson Clinical Research Institute

Looking for better ways to recruit and retain patients? “Connect from the beginning,” Fabian Sandoval, CEO and research director with the Emerson Clinical Research Institute, told attendees of the ACRP-Avoca Quality Consortium 2018 Quality Congress at National Harbor, Md., April 27.

As part of his successful efforts, Sandoval works to pair potential trial participants with professionals who “look and sound” like the patient. You’ll develop trust, he says, and that’s a key to strong compliance and retention.

“We’re finally moving past the buzzwords and beginning to make real progress” said David Fryrear, a senior director at AbbVie. However, “we shouldn’t congratulate ourselves yet,” he added, because there’s still lots to do.

AbbVie has had success with a number of initiatives, including a “protocol jam” where professionals from multiple functional areas get together to realistically walk through a given protocol. Sometimes the team members will determine that they’re asking a patient to come back three times a week or stay for a nine-hour day. Unless that kind of commitment is truly needed, there’s no point chasing patients away with logistical demands that weren’t adequately thought through.

The company has also hosted several patient-led events. “At the beginning, they will thank us for the medicine, and then begin to talk about barriers to trial entry,” Fryrear says.

Sandoval outlined some of the biggest barriers faced by his patient population:

  • Are providers telling patients about studies? A perennial challenge, Sandoval said it remained at the top of the list.
  • Language barriers. Sandoval works to have marketing materials available in English and Spanish to cater to his geographic area. He’s currently trying to conduct a trial and finding that a lack of bilingual materials is “really holding us back.”
  • Patient education. Many in his patient population have “no idea about the value of clinical trials,” he says. Get creative in your outreach. For example, Sandoval’s team often goes to churches to conduct education sessions. Next month, he’s going to a local church event where 600 women will be meeting, and he’s taking advantage of that audience to spread the word about how trials work and how important they are to everyone in the community.
  • Because many of his trial subjects rely on public transportation, he has to work to keep his trial schedule as flexible as possible. For example, early morning appointments are often problematic for those patients.

Author: Michael Causey