3 Limitations of Databases for Patient Recruitment

by Melynda Geurts

Not too long ago, online communities became a popular alternative to the low volume of referrals and inaccuracy of traditional media. These communities began as central hubs where patients gathered online to discuss their illness and seek knowledge or support.

As the industry came to realize the powerful capabilities of these communities, pharmaceutical companies quickly began building their own online centers in hopes of building a large, mineable database for their own clinical trial recruitment projects. These databases take years to build, but can evolve into very large and powerful information centers.

Although these databases have brought enormous advantages to clinical trial recruitment, there are severe limitations to this strategy.


3 Limitations of Databases for Patient Recruitment


1. Demographics Grow Out-of-Date

Certain demographic data are reliable and permanent, for example birth date or race. However, a significant portion of demographic data can grow out-of-date very quickly and result in inaccurate referrals by the time the data are used to recruit for a trial. Individuals may no longer have the time or ability to commit to the protocol requirements, or they may no longer meet the required criteria.
Some examples of soon-to-be-outdated demographic characteristics include:

  • Physical characteristics such as weight or pregnancy status
  • Geographic location, address, phone number
  • Life situations, married, student, job change

2. Medications Grow Out-of-Date

Similar to certain demographic data, medication information can quickly become outdated in databases.  Recruiting patients based on their medication history as it appears in the database leaves room for the possibility that they may have added different medication or changed dosage since the time of data entry. Wasted efforts in recruiting subjects who no longer fit the criteria will add up quickly and prove to be costly.

3. Cost

Databases are extremely costly to develop and maintain. In order to maintain a reliable database, one must overcome the previous two challenges by keeping the data up-to-date and accurate. This requires a significant amount of resources and manpower. Continuous effort must be made to connect with patients and other data sources. This is not to mention the resources required to construct the database, such as manpower, hardware, software, and other costs.

To learn more about the limitations of internally-generated database strategies and what you can do to leverage existing and fluid communities, grab a copy of our recent ebook here!

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