How can digital fill clinical trials?

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Given the challenges of recruitment, companies are increasingly open to outside-the-box strategies. What are some ways that pharma could use websites, analytics and social media to boost enrollment in clinical trials?

Scott Connor
Vice president, marketing, Acurian

It will surprise some companies that social media has moved well past the experimental phase as a channel for patient recruitment. We've been using social media for over four years and it is a ­requisite part of the media mix. The issue with social media is that clinical trial sponsors see a recruitment panacea that doesn't exist, and this mirage has nothing to do with any impending regulatory restrictions destined to suddenly close the aperture. Complex protocol designs and site geographies continue to significantly cut the available trial population, so finding all the patients in the cloud is still a long way off. Having a robust media mix is more important than ever, and social media is just another arrow in the quiver.

Raymond Hill
President, inVentiv Health Clinical

Like most other aspects of healthcare, clinical trial recruitment has moved from a solely offline activity to one that requires a positive online experience. At inVentiv Health Clinical, we've recently taken steps to help engage potential, and interact with current trial participants.  We acquired a stake in Mytrus, a pioneer in “virtual clinical ­trials” and technologies such as electronic informed consent, to improve trial efficiency as well as allowing greater access to participants who may not live near a trial site. Secondly, we have developed a seamless approach to ­leveraging our inVentiv Health Digital experts who are now an integral part of our core clinical team, allowing us the ability of incorporating digital and social elements at the forefront of our clinical trial plans.

Linda Drumright
General manager, clinical trial optimization solutions,IMS Health

Protocols may be medically brilliant, but finding patients is increasingly difficult.  Given these challenges, IMS recommends taking the guesswork out of the equation and using a data-driven, evidence-based approach to assess how many patients are out there and identify potential investigators.

Global information on the comparator drug, down to the formulation and strength prescribed, is available.  Where rich medical data exists, the I/E criteria can be applied for patient counts and location.  Depending on privacy laws, the doctors that have your patients can be provided, even showing whether they have previously conducted clinical trials or not.  The evidence-based approach supports pre-existing CRO in-house lists, directing recruitment to target those sites with known patients.

David Coman
Senior vice president, Quintiles Communications

We believe in using digital means to engage patients for direct-to-patient programs for clinical studies, observational research and disease management programs. It's not a question of “when” these capabilities will be available. It's a question of when the industry will make them standard.  

Our Digital Patient Unit has completed more than 350 custom patient programs on behalf of sponsors. In one Quintiles-managed study, 425 patients were recruited from the company's online patient community with the first digital patient enrolled in the study in a mere six minutes and the last patient confirmed in only nine calendar days.


Got a forum question or comment?
Send an e-mail to marc.iskowitz@haymarketmedia.com or kevin.mccaffrey@haymarketmedia.com

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