Hospital Bucks Negative Patient Retention Trends with Recruitment Enhancements

Chris Gantz, MBA, Senior Director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at the Thomas Jefferson Hospital

The discouraging statistics from the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) are all too familiar: Nearly 80% of clinical trials fail to finish on time, 20% of those are delayed for more than six months, and 85% of clinical trials fail to retain enough patients. Wait, it gets worse. The average dropout rate across all clinical trials is nearly 30%, more than two-thirds of sites fail to meet their original patient enrollment goals, and close to half of all sites enroll one or no patients in the course of their fledgling studies.

So why is Chris Gantz, MBA, senior director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at the Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, such an upbeat guy? Maybe it’s because he’s leveraged tried-and-proven tools and tactics via Recruitment Enhancement Services (RES) to chart a favorable course against those prevailing winds.

“RES provides a unique benefit to study teams by increasing the likelihood of meeting recruitment goals and frees up the time and resources of study teams,” he told an ACRP Webinar audience earlier this month (February 12).

Gantz and team have utilized RES to craft effective e-mail and postal mail distribution of institutional review board–approved content to potential participants and to better engage local communities, among other advantages, he says.

However, the key to any successful reinvigoration of a patient recruitment and retention program is taking a look around your very immediate vicinity. “The greatest resource is your network,” Gantz says, including tapping “other study teams, Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) members, and other colleagues.”

Gantz also shared some general recruitment tips when reaching out to a community of potential trial participants. For starters, “Keep it simple, less is more,” he says. For example, keep wording and communication at the 4th- to 8th-grade vocabulary level, and “save technical information for a time when you can have a discussion with questions and answers.”

It’s also important not to oversell the situation as some “can’t miss” opportunity, Gantz says. View your initial outreach as “an invitation to a conversation,” rather than as a heavy sales pitch where you are trying to close the deal by signing up a new patient, he adds. Frame it as “a collaboration and not an exciting opportunity for them to participate,” he stresses.

Keep communications brief, too. “People remember what’s at the beginning and end” of most outreach, Gantz says.

Other effective tips:

  • Use a single contact at the end of the communication.
  • Respond to calls within 48 hours—preferably within 24.
  • Don’t recruit too far ahead of enrollment. “People lose interest and forget,” Gantz says.

Gantz also emphasizes the value of signage boards—if done properly. Place recruitment boards in high-traffic areas, after garnering any necessary approvals, and use tear pads, which teams report “have been effective in promoting their studies,” he notes.

Author: Michael Causey