Effective patient recruitment can accelerate the commercialization of new medicines more than any other single optimization. Unfortunately, patient recruitment is becoming increasingly complex. There are many challenges to overcome including increased complexity of clinical trials, competition for patients, rising patient expectations, and tight timelines. There is significant innovation ongoing to address these challenges including patient self-referral from sponsor websites and patient matching from healthcare data sources. However, these approaches are often fragmentary, extremely expensive and consequently, have limited impact.
Consider patient recruitment as a process which includes six main steps – plan, find, engage, screen, enroll, dynamically manage. To facilitate significant improvement, it’s important to look outside the patient recruitment area and consider “best in class” use cases. One of these is Supply Chain Management, a discipline that has been developed for managing processes. Although clearly patients are not products or services, applying supply chain management principles can help us improve many aspects of the patient recruitment process. Key principles include customer focus, planning, agility, collaboration, integration and visibility. Applying these to the patient recruitment process has been demonstrated to improve patient recruitment by more than 20% across many disease areas. A few key learnings are highlighted below:
In summary, many sponsors today view recruitment as a study-level challenge rather than an organizational competency. Recruitment activities need to be joined up seamlessly and managed dynamically across all process steps. Patient recruitment done well needs to be patient-focused, well-planned, agile, collaborative, integrated, and most-of-all visible – just like a well-run supply chain.
Written by John Murray-Pryce
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