Part 1 in this series of blogs on the role of referring physicians in clinical research chronicled the factors that have led to study sponsors’ lack of confidence in physician referrals as an effective patient recruitment strategy. In Part 2 of this series on Research Champions referring physicians spoke for themselves through primary research conducted by BBK Worldwide. Today, we look at best practices that lead to referring physician programs that generate compelling results.
If you’ve stuck with me throughout this series of blogs on Referring Physician programs, I suspect that you might be considering the role that a physician-to-physician campaign can play in enrolling an active or planned study. Good thinking – particularly if your research is in a rare or orphan disease, pediatrics, or involves a complex screening process or extensive inclusion/exclusion criteria. Here are a few key things to know about moving forward.
Skilled implementers of Referring Physician programs must:
- Know the protocol inside and out
- Understand what prior research has been conducted on the compound and within the drug class
- Know the history of the disease and its treatments
- Be able to speak knowledgeably about the study sponsor and its commitment to the patients suffering with the condition
The work of reaching out to potential referring physicians is not administrative. While one might begin with an introductory email, the real work happens through conversations between the program implementers, practitioners and study investigators. Therefore, implementers also must:
- Ably build relationships with gatekeepers
- Believe that every physician matters
When planning a Referring Physician program assume that it will be a significantly labor-intensive effort. One of the first decisions to make is whether to use inside or outsourced staffing, based upon available resources, but more importantly, based upon the necessary characteristics and skills of the program personnel.
Referring physicians require quality information to become motivated and comfortable with connecting their patients with study investigators. You’ll need to invest in physician-directed materials which should only be prepared based upon an approved, not proposed, protocol.
And as standards as well as pathways of care vary widely country to country, there is no one-size approach to a Referring Physician program.
Sourcing potential referring practitioners, developing messaging that meets the demands of these healthcare professionals, and staffing the teams that conduct the outreach are all skills that BBK Worldwide has developed, tested and refined over our decades of clinical research recruitment support. Whether Referring Physician programs were in fashion or not at any particular point in time, well-conceived and professionally executed campaigns have enrolled all or a significant percentage of required participants for studies throughout BBK’s 35 years. Call me, and I’m happy to tell you more.