PAREXEL - Paul Evans Discusses Innovative Tools and Technology for Recruiting
The area of patient recruitment is one that lends itself very well to the use of technology. PAREXEL has developed a lot of new tools and techniques that help to support our patient recruitment efforts. They come into three broad categories. We are either using them to get the message out to patients that clinical trials are there and they may be interested in taking part or we’re using them to support the patient decision about whether they want to take part in the clinical trial or not or we’re using them to fit the site to support the trial process in around what’s a very busy clinical day for them. So in the first of those, identifying the patients in the first place in the patient outreach, there’s a lot that we’re now able to do with electronic health records. They’ve transformed the way that we can identify patients and their eligibility, whereas prior to that, we were in a situation where we didn’t know which patients were eligible for the trial and which ones weren’t. Through the patient health record, we can narrow down on the patients we really want to get to. We can also make a great deal of use of the internet and social media, for example. All of which makes it easier to get our message out to the patient about the clinical trials and that’s usually the reason the patients don’t take part in clinical trials is they simply don’t know they exist. Messaging the patient is a critical process for us and technology has supported that. When it then comes to supporting the patient to make the right decision to take part and to retain them, we’ve used things like our patient recruitment and retention platform which is a website that provides the patient with the information that not only they, but their family, needs. The decision to take part is often not just resting with the patient. It’s resting with the extended family and friends. The patient recruitment and retention platform allows the patient to a.) review the information that maybe they’ve been given by the physician and b.) to share that information with the people that are going to help them to make the decision. We also have a product which we call consent+ which explains the clinical trial process and, specifically, the trial the patient has been approached about in a very simple way that, again, allows them to share that information with family and friends. Everybody these days has a smartphone. The patient app can actually help the patient, remind them what they need to do, point them in the right direction and encourage them to stay involved in the trial. Finally, for the sites themselves, we often forget that sites are very busy clinical environments and clinical trials are just a part of what they do. The patient recruitment and retention platform also supports the site to support its own patients. We use something called preScreen+ which systematically takes the site through the requirements for patients for a trial and helps them identify through either an electronic medical record or a patient record the right patients to take part in the trial. We’re supporting the site through its complex decision making. Of course, we have site support apps as well. If sites have very busy days and the patient presents it’s suitable for a clinical trial, it’s often difficult to bring to mind exactly what they need to do. Sometimes it’s easier, rather than to go and get the information, to actually just let the patient go. The app will support them through the visit for the patient. We’re also very conscious of the benefits of social media and we at PAREXEL very much believe that it’s the site that needs to be social with the patient rather than the sponsor or the CRO. We’ve produced a series of tools that help the site to have this social media interaction with their patients so we give them our expertise and allow them to be social with the patient.