From manual to digital: a 360 approach to patient recruitment in clinical trials

November 28, 2023

In the ever-evolving healthcare ecosystem, the pivotal role of clinical trial technology cannot be overstated. These trials serve as the lifeblood of medical progress, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and innovative treatments that can improve the lives of countless individuals. As the need to shorten time to market for new treatments increases, so does the demand for effective and efficient patient recruitment.

Basia Coulter, Healthcare and Life Sciences Partner at Globant, spoke to healthcare and life sciences experts about how technology stands as a game-changer in clinical trials, discussing a 360 approach to patient identification

A new paradigm in patient recruitment

Mikkel Arnoldi, SVP of Digital Healthcare at Globant, mentions how the healthcare sector has changed its go-to-market model due to COVID-19. Patients started to make a habit of online medical appointments, and cell phones became the best ally to find answers regarding their health. Technology itself has been further developed, improving the accessibility and user experience. 

“We already live online, and occasionally we go offline,” says Arnoldi. From awareness to loyalty, the potential lies at the top of the funnel, where healthcare and life sciences companies should implement and scale digital tools to reach numbers and data they can’t obtain through traditional means.

“If we want to reach any kind of person digitally, we need to understand the role of digital in people’s lives today;” Arnoldi mentions how methods such as digital observational research (or digital IQ) help analyze the therapeutic area landscape, identify potential candidates for clinical trials, and understand the digital tactics from other organizations competing for the same patient population. Those methods include social listening, search keyword analysis, traffic analysis to different websites and apps, and more, all deployed to understand target audiences’ digital journeys and behaviors. 

In addition, identifying the geographic areas where potential patient populations can be found enables a targeted launch of digital campaigns with granularity at a state or city level. Understanding where those conversations occur and how companies can target those audiences through digital channels is vital to streamlining enrollment. 

Real-world data: the key to success

The geographic location of patients who might be eligible for a given clinical trial can be derived from real-world data (RWD), patient health status data, and health care delivery routinely collected from various sources. Unfortunately, the large volume of patient data is also matched by the level of noise and bias. Some results produced by machine learning and artificial intelligence tools can be ill-founded, failing to represent a broader spectrum of communities. 

Traditional clinical trials have strict inclusion and exclusion criteria, causing findings to be limited and specific to a homogeneous patient population. “One of the main challenges is that studies, in many cases, are still done in Caucasian males, just because research is more accessible to that demographic,” says Dan Somers, CEO at Dexter, a real-world evidence (RWE) platform that generates insights from healthcare data sets.

Leveraging real-world patient information is crucial to achieving diversity in trial recruitment. For instance, Dexter can facilitate access to a billion patients worldwide in over 30 countries, covering 60% of the world’s population. These data sets come from hospitals, physicians, dentists, and ophthalmologists, enabling the generation of transparent and reproducible insights, which allow life sciences companies to reach people in diverse environments with patients suffering from rare diseases or those prone to developing certain health conditions. 

Streamlining compliant patient recruitment and enrollment 

 The use of RWD in patient recruitment must come with the utmost respect for patient data privacy. For example, how can we leverage tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) for patient identification while addressing the patients’ right not to be contacted? Amy Apostoleris, Global Head of Digital Clinical Trials Solutions at Medocity, highlights the importance of HCP referral. The company launched REACH, a digital platform that facilitates recruiting patients and determines their eligibility by first connecting with their physicians instead of the patients directly. 

The platform enables a process of patient qualification, where AI analyzes claims data, genomic data, and electronic health records. Then, it links patients to their healthcare providers, who confirm patients’ eligibility and refer them to an enrollment queue. Apostelaris said 60% of patients would enroll in a clinical trial if their physician recommended it. 

Medocity supports multi-site enrollment and scale. For example, they are currently working with a sponsor on a clinical trial program involving more than 75 trial sites across 12 countries, intending to enroll 500 pediatric and adult patients.

Globant is at the forefront of leveraging digital technology to reinvent healthcare and life sciences. Our Healthcare and Life Sciences Studio drives innovation across three industry pillars – research and development, digital healthcare, and go-to-market strategy for life sciences. Listen to the entire conversation between industry leaders and learn how companies leverage increasingly intelligent methods to bring better results that adhere to ethical standards and regulations in patient recruitment and enrollment to clinical trials.

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The Healthcare & Life Sciences Studio aims to reinvent the life sciences industry ecosystem through tangible technology-driven solutions. Globant aims to bridge the gap to help life sciences and healthcare organizations to achieve their mission of delivering innovation and services faster and more efficiently to enhance patient value and improve outcomes.