The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions to our lives and to clinical research. While many clinical trials have paused new enrollment on studies, this doesn’t mean that your site has to cease all recruitment efforts. By being proactive and engaging with your existing patients during this time, your site can prepare for when clinical trials begin screening patients again.
To continue to support our site partners, we have compiled a list of four things your site can do to regarding recruitment readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic:
1: Set Up Processes for Recruitment and Enrollment Post-COVID 19
Take this time to strategize how your site will handle recruitment and screening once the peak of COVID-19 is over and daily lives start to get back on track. Many patients will be eager to participate and having a process to handle the influx for your staff will be crucial. Think about the media tactics you’d like to use to reach those patients and how you will execute your recruitment plans.
Keep in mind that once things resume, processes may not look the same as they did before. Social contact in person may be slow to rebound and digital contact may become a feature that is more permanently integrated into how things operate. Shifting your initial recruitment plans may be necessary. Communicate any changes in your processes to your staff and use this time to do any additional training that may need to take place.
2: Prepare Patient Recruitment Materials for On-Hold Studies
During recruitment campaign development, gaining proper approvals from sponsors and IRBs often takes longer than one would like. This interim period, when your site is not screening patients, is the perfect time to work on developing your recruitment materials and getting them submitted for approval. Having your recruitment campaign materials ready for implementation will help get your site’s enrollment up and running as quickly as possible.
3: Keep in Communication with Your Patients
We are all facing a time of uncertainty, but patients who are dependent on a clinical trial treatment have been coping with added concern and worry. This is the time to address their worries and send messages of support and stability to the best of your ability.
While you may not be able to provide face-to-face care at this time, it is important to continue to connect with your patients. Sending updates on your procedures and commitment to provide care can help ease the minds of your patients. Additionally, staying connected with your community and patients will help to increase your brand awareness and trust. Building that interactive communication online will help to keep your patients engaged and potentially draw in new patients during this unprecedented time.
4: Organize and Update Patient Database Contacts
Now is a perfect time to dig through all the patient contacts your site has collected and organize them. Keeping updated profiles in your CRM system helps to easily capitalize on your internal resources for future study enrollment. Start by making sure all contact information is up-to-date for your patients and then move on from there. Think about the best way for your site to identify qualified patients for studies from your database and try and find that information from your current patients. Then make updates in your CRM system.
If you don’t have a CRM system, you can look at other secure ways to organize this data. Excel files have a lot of flexibility and options for filtering and sorting information. Setting up a master file with sort and filter options could be a great start to organizing a dynamic patient database for your site right now.
About the Authors:
Hannah Kepros is the Manager at WCG PatientWise, an advertising agency that specializes in patient recruitment for clinical research.
Sarah Eklund is a Senior Marketing Specialist at WCG PatientWise, an ad agency that specializes in patient recruitment for clinical research.