In a quantitative study once conducted by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, it was found that 11 percent of investigative sites – deemed ‘ready to recruit’ – failed to enrol a single patient. Now, it’s no secret patient enrolment continues to be a critical issue in clinical trials that often proves a decisive factor in its success or failure. In this age-old factor in clinical trials, what can sponsors do to improve recruitment rates and overcome one of the most common obstacles in clinical trial operations? Below are seven things to consider:

1. Create a website solely for your trial

Setting up a separate clinical trials website for their specific therapy, designed to attract patients to come to their site. Once online, they would be referred to an investigator conducting a clinical trial in their specific disease.

2. Identify Target Patient Population

Follow patients who companies think they are at risk of developing exacerbations of diseases, making them eligible for their clinical trial. The trial sites can then develop a database of the patients to see if they meet the criteria for entry to the study.

3. Patient Centricity

The two-word phrase that remains as pertinent as ever. Patient involvement as early as possible within the protocol development phase ensures patients are incentivized by the trial. Patient centricity also has a role in patient retention as well – if the design of the trial is too complex, patients will likely out of trials. Simplicity and enthusiasm is key. Make your study as accessible as possible to your patient. It’s important the industry needs to now work together to ensure that patients are placed at the front of mind from the CEO to the CRA.

4. Partner with an Established Patient Recruitment Vendor

A recruitment vendor could be your most important ally in pinpointing and enrolling the patients you need for your study. Perform audits on prospective vendors in the pre-contract stage to ensure they have the recruitment experience and expertise, not only in your specific geographic, but the therapeutic area as well.

5. Successful Use of Social Media

The ubiquity of social media means access to patients is just a click away. Social media allows sponsors to advertise in a highly targeted way. Online ads are also more likely to replicate an offline experience. As people spend more and more time checking social media they may pass these links on to other people.

6. Partnering with Influencers

Identifying and engaging key bloggers and Twitter personalities who support trial participation is also an important way to raise awareness of studies. Such influencers can inform people about specific trials going on in their communities. It is also possible to launch Twitter campaigns to bring the trial to the attention of the right patients by using popular hashtags within the targeted population.

7. Have in Place Support Materials

Lastly, it’s critical to ensure support materials are in place at the sites where necessary. This is key in order to help existing sites promote study awareness by their staff and to facilitate potential subject engagement.