Disappointing One Clinical Trial Applicant Can Have a Negative Ripple Effect

Carla Balch, CEO, TransMed Systems Inc.

Carla Balch, CEO, TransMed Systems Inc.

Looking for a way to discourage new trial participants? How about sitting a coordinator down with a prospective patient, then running through a 45-minute inclusion/exclusion criteria review where the second-to-last question abruptly takes the patient out of consideration?

“It happens all the time and it’s deflating” for clinical trial practitioners and their patients, says Carla Balch, CEO with TransMed Systems Inc., a provider or clinical trial and care support technologies and consulting.

It’s also a big problem. Studies consistently find that it is doctors and family/friends who have the most sway when it comes to convincing a potential patient to investigate clinical trial opportunities. Discourage one person, and you could be discouraging a wider network of friends and family.

Furthermore, “people are sitting in a waiting room right now who are eligible for your trial, and they’re being missed because of an” aversion to technology on the part of study staff, says Balch. She cites an entrenched workflow without technology adequately “baked in” at study sites as one of the biggest culprits.

While Balch’s specialty is oncology-related trial work, and she’s seen technology advance trial enrollment in that arena, she says “every therapy has this challenge.” Prior to joining TransMed, Balch was president of NantCare, an oncology clinical trial and technology company.

On the bright side, Balch thinks the traditionally technology-averse clinical trial industry is beginning to come around.


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“Researchers are beginning to see the reward of using technology to find good trial matches,” she says. In some cases, technology properly leveraged can pre-screen 80% of false-positive, would-be participants—meaning there are not as many disappointments where a prospective patient waits 45-minutes to learn they aren’t eligible for a trial in minute 44.

“Researchers can spend their time working on the 20%” who have the highest probability of being accepted into the trial, Balch says.

Author: Michael Causey