Patient Recruitment & Retention Trends: How They Can Impact Your Site

by Melynda Geurts
patient recruitment & retention trends

An insider’s look at the 3 primary patient recruitment & retention trends
(original article)

The clinical trial industry is highly dynamic; there are many moving parts that seem to constantly be revised, enhanced, and morphed into the “next big thing.” Maneuvering through these ever-changing processes adds to the already existing complexities of conducting and managing clinical trials. There are many variables and trends that come into play that affect the conduct of clinical trials.

In today’s environment, there are three primary trends which may impact how patients are identified and clinical trials conducted.

1. Big Data for Site Identification

The evolution of big data in recent years has aided in identifying appropriate and qualified sites as well as disease prevalence. Sponsors can more easily identify sites who are already seeing the targeted patient population. Recently, this trend has expanded to include electronic health record (EHR) data, which has opened up many other possibilities.

My colleague, Dan McDonald, recently published an excellent blog post on this topic – be sure to give it a read!

2. Technology in Patient Recruitment

The utilization of technology encompasses many outreach mediums, which include social media, online health communities, and digital marketing. These initiatives are quickly changing the face of clinical trials. While sites may not partake in using all the strategies to help identify patients, it is imperative to have an understanding of the various informational sources of how one may learn of clinical trials and the knowledge they bring with them that will need to be managed by the site in terms of questions and expectations.

The introduction of digital marketing, online social communities and social media has created an interface where one is able to push5 clinical trial information to the individual. Because these individuals are actively engaged online, sponsors, recruitment vendors, marketers and the like can visualize behavioral patterns during their activity online. This is vital in using online outreach to assist with recruitment so one is aware of where best to spend your money to target the desired patient population.

3. Mobile Technology for Patient Retention

The third and final eminent trend is the impact of mobile technology related to patient engagement and compliance. Those of us who live in the clinical research industry know all too well that the end game of a successful clinical trial is to maintain the required amount of study participants throughout the course of the trial.Until recently, maintaining the necessary level of engagement was entirely a manual process. The advent of mobile technology has reduced the burden to study staff and has created an automated and efficient way for the study staff to communicate with patients while away from the office.



While these trends bring challenges from a management and understanding perspective, they also bring viable solutions never available before. When faced with these options, do not panic and look the other way, or do what has become comfortable. Take a moment to fully understand how this impacts the site’s practice and processes in clinical trials. The sooner these solutions are adopted into practice, the better chance of success.

How have these trends impacted your clinical trials? What other trends have you seen recently?


This blog post was taken from a recent article that I wrote for SCRS‘ quarterly InSite publication. You can read the complete article here.



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