Trends in Diverse Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment and Retention

August 19 2021  

Greenphire recently held a collaborative webinar with panelists from Trialbee, and Worldwide Clinical Trials entitled “Simplifying the Patient Journey: Driving Enrollment and Retention Through Technology.” This was an informative discussion about barriers and trends within the global industry regarding patient retention and recruitment.

Challenges in finding diverse participants: The WHY

The panelists discussed many issues addressing why these challenges persist in the clinical trial industry. These thoughts ranged from the competition for patients, information overload, and global regulation complexities. Although these are very prevalent issues that plague the industry overall, we also wanted toto address the underrepresentation of minority groups.

Our panel identified several opportunities to make strides in bridging the gaps of access. First and foremost, the industry should look to build trust with the communities that they wish to see represented in research. One way this can be accomplished is by focusing on raising awareness and making trials available to participants where THEY receive care. Clinical trial sponsors need to be aware of the socioeconomic factors that can limit the participation of certain groups; in many cases, they simply cannot afford it. The implicit bias of healthcare professionals must also be addressed. It’s often been discussed that there is an unfair stigma that minority populations would not be willing to participate in clinical research and also that these groups are more challenging participants. Compounding these perceptions is the exclusivity of eligibility criteria; restrictive practices such as these tend to eliminate diverse candidates who may have an underlying condition. For example, if someone has diabetes, they may not be able to participate in trial for a different condition. And lastly, there needs to be consideration for participants who speak different languages; not everyone speaks English fluently or is comfortable outside of their cultural pocket of society.

The impact and mitigation

Delays in the clinical trial is the ultimate impact of lack of patient retention, and this can be extremely costly to the sponsor. So, what can help? Sophisticated technology that has the ability to help find and enroll target participants using real world data is one such way; by utilizing fair market value data that is indicative of the current industry cost trends, it’s possible to better understand and build strategies for engaging your target population during initial study development. Having a clear understanding of the cost burden on patients is crucial; it can help study teams understand what additional technology and services can be used to remove financial and logistical burdens from trial participants. In addition to removing patient burden, the utilization of technology also has the ability to alleviate the burden on research sites allowing for a more streamlined process and time back for patient care

However, technology is not one size fits all, and it is still imperative for sponsors and sites to engage with the communities they wish to receive diverse participation from. We can inspire others, and become  contagious about access among the communities. Education needs to be provided in culturally appropriate manner for communities they wish to serve. This can involve working with community groups and faith-based organizations. Participants are more likely to engage with investigators that understand their cultures, customs, and speak their languages. Diversifying the investigators working in clinical research can have a meaningful impact on patient retention. It builds trust and connection, something that has been lacking historically in clinical research.

Retaining Clinical Trial Participants

With the evolving complexity of clinical trials – with more frequent and further visits, decentralized clinical trials offer an opportunity to remove some of the burdens that participants frequently encounter. At Greenphire, we can make data triggered payments to accommodate participants who complete remote trial activities, and travel integration that can aid in removing some of the logistical burden on participants, site, and sponsors. There needs to be a consideration for the needs of each participant population so that sites in those areas a set up for success. By removing the burden on participants and providing sites with the tools needed to successfully run the clinal trials we can expect to see improved retention. This is not an overnight fix, but with more strategic planning and interactions, we will see a shift in the industry.

You can watch the replay of the full panel discussion here. Or, we invite you to download our new white paper, Simplifying the Clinical Trial Participant Journey: Driving Enrollment and Retention Through Technology. 


Jaleeysa King
Senior Data Delivery Analyst

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