In Global Patient Recruitment: What Is “Success”?

In Global Patient Recruitment: What Is “Success”?

By Justin Jones on Wed, May 1, 2013 | 4 min read

intriguing resized 600Note: This blog contains excerpts from Justin’s article on operationalizing and distributing new patient recruitment programs published in the March 2013 edition of European Pharmaceutical Contractor. To download the complete article, visit

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein  

There existed a time in the history of everything that works when it didn’t work. New medications, breakthrough surgical techniques, technological advancements…all accomplished through a varying mix of persistence, luck, setbacks, and ultimate triumph.

I mention this because there is always the possibility that no matter how wonderful your new patient recruitment idea, how perfect the planning and execution, things may fall short of your expectations. Call me a blister-pack-half-full guy, but I believe in looking at experience in its entirety. We need to change our way of thinking about what is and what is not “successful.” There is value in the journey.

In an industry where clinical research study data is carefully scrubbed and analyzed for any type of perceptible trend, we frequently fail to do the same when evaluating the processes involved in patient recruitment beyond the overly simplistic, “Did the study enroll on time or not?”

Like any good analysis, equal time should be dedicated to examining the parts of a new program that yielded positive or unexpected results. This includes asking questions such as:

  • Which sites were most successful in implementing the program? Was this due to their clinical trial experience or due to their expressed desire for such a program?
  • Could the program or its planning be modified to address some of its deficits? Where can the process be augmented / scaled back to maximize ROI?
  • Did budgetary and / or time constrictions limit the effectiveness of the program? Did the program have the proper levels of support it needed to be successful?
  • How did the program respond to unforeseen challenges and obstacles? Was there a clear process for addressing problems as they arose? Were these problems accurately documented and resolved?
  • Would a smaller- or larger-scale pilot program have been more appropriate to implement? Did you collect enough data to properly inform your decision to move forward with this program in the future?
  • Did your colleagues excel at handling new responsibilities? Who could you entrust to run and expand upon this program for future clinical trials?  
  • Were too many people involved in making important and / or timely decisions? Were the “right” people involved? New programs often require quick, necessary changes. Was this process difficult to achieve? Did the people making these decisions fully understand the program and the implications of the changes they were being asked to make?
  • How could this new technology be incorporated into existing or future products? What are some ways that it could be used in other areas of patient recruitment? Across multiple studies? To support recruitment in other countries?

As clinical research professionals, we’re all in the business of innovation. Some things will work out; others will fall by the wayside. It’s the operationalization of these programs and distribution of “learnings” that will provide the firm foundation necessary to accomplish the next big breakthroughs in global patient recruitment and retention.

Have ideas about measuring your patient recruitment success? We’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment below!

Topics: Patient Recruitment, BBK Worldwide