Recruiting patients for a clinical trial can be a long and expensive process, but smart trial sponsors and sites use a mix of traditional and new media in order to maximize their recruiting budget, a veteran patient recruiting consultant said.
Steven Pyffer, senior director of patient outreach at ThreeWire, a Minneapolis-based clinical trial patient recruiting company, offered some tips on getting the most from recruiting budgets during a May 30 WCG webinar: Cutting the Costs of Clinical Trial Recruitment.
Among his tips:
Pyffer also had some tips for things to avoid. In considering whether to hire a recruiter, sponsors should steer clear of those who focus on clinical trial “awareness” rather than patients, he said.
“That’s a red flag,” said Pyffer. “Awareness: That means literally nothing to me. The only measure that really counts is enrolled patients. That’s the only thing.”
Any recruiter, he argued, should be able to offer sponsors or sites raw numbers of patients successfully enrolled in trials. They should also be able to offer something like real-time tracking of patients enrolling in a given trial.
Others are a bit more sanguine about the importance of awareness. For example, programs such as PopUp Star, a global competition designed to help grow clinical trials at the grassroots level focus more on awareness. In this program, during a 10-day period in early April, teams competed in Boston, MA; Charleston, SC; Winston-Salem, NC; and Sydney, Australia, to engage more than 1,500 individuals.
Pyffer’s not buying it. He said groups that are selling sponsors or sites on awareness are selling “hocus-pocus.”
“The only thing I want to know about is how many patients were enrolled for whatever protocol,” he says.
Once referrals start coming in, though, it’s essential that they’re being directed to a professional, well-run site, Pyffer said. The best measure is how quickly sites make contact after a referral — first contact should be made within hours, not days, he said.
“If you’re not able to respond to a referral within a day or so, there’s really no reason to invest the money,” he said. “So much time is elapsing and the percentage of the person moving on is a lot less.”
“You have to see if they’re truly engaged,” Pyffer said of sites. “The one advantage we have is that everything is tracked through mypatient.com, so we can see how they’re doing with processing of referrals.”
Steven Pyffer can be reached at email@example.com.