My last post, The Patient Recruitment Secret (for Sponsors and CROs), has generated quite a bit of interest, including a repost on Applied Clinical Trials.
Paul Ivsin also responded with an excellent blog that includes some fascinating data. As Paul points out, “the number of active ‘competing’ trials at a site is not a reliable predictor of enrollment performance.” I highly recommend that you check out Paul’s blog here (not just for this post, but all the time).
Since publishing my last blog, I’ve continued thinking about the topic of site (and patient) commitment as it relates to patient recruitment.
The “Four Ps”
For those of you familiar with Marketing 101, you may remember the “4 Ps.”
(This marketing model can be expanded to include other “Ps,” but 4 will do fine for the purposes of this blog post.)
When I consider these 4 Ps in relation to clinical trials (and patient recruitment), a couple of glaring issues come to mind.
First, discussion about patient recruitment tends to revolve around promotion. Undoubtedly, promotion has an important role to play. But does promotion deserve the amount of focus we give it?
And second, we don’t spend that much time discussing clinical trials as a product. When a product is thoughtfully considered and executed, the other 3 Ps fall into place far more easily. Should we do more to improve the product of clinical trials as it relates to sites and patients?
Not surprisingly, I’d say yes. In fact, I’d argue that from a patient recruitment perspective, product is the most important P of all. And I’d also argue that we haven’t done a very good job with our product.
Improving The Product
For this reason, I’ve been heartened my some important developments:
For one, technology offers great potential to help us improve our clinical trial product. I am very optimistic on this front.
Unfortunately, many are satisfied to stop there. But technology is not a panacea. To quote Eric Topol, author of the Creative Destruction of Medicine (and keynote speaker at the upcoming Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference), “Automating a broken process won’t provide the fix.”
Technology is merely a tool. And to use this tool effectively, it needs to be accompanied by a shift in perspective about how we do clinical trials. We need to seriously question the current model and be willing to burn it to the ground if warranted.
Luckily, movement seems to be afoot on this second front as well. Select sponsors are showing greater willingness to reexamine the current model.
For instance, Transparency Life Sciences recently had the first crowdsourced protocol approved by the FDA. Meanwhile, Lilly’s Clinical Open Innovation (LCOI) team is experimenting with new models, while soliciting input from patients and other stakeholders who have historically had little voice. (LCOI also has a fabulous blog that I highly recommend).
I believe that technology, along with a greater willingness to experiment with more patient and site centered clinical trial models, can vastly improve the efficiency of clinical trials. And we’ve just barely gotten started. The next several years could get very interesting.