It’s a stubborn myth, perpetuated in part by those who believe that physicians fear losing their patients to the care of the investigator following the conclusion of a study. In fact, more than half of the study sponsors surveyed for Study Voices believe that doctors are unwilling to refer their patients to other specialists for access to clinical trials. Of these, 61% believe it’s because they fear losing their patient.
But the reality speaks otherwise. Of the physicians surveyed, 69% said they had in fact referred a patient. And those unwilling to refer said that 68% of the time it’s because they have questions about the protocol.
For those who believe that a referred patient won’t return to the referring physician following the conclusion of the study, the findings clearly refute this notion. Of the patients surveyed who indicated they had been referred to a study doctor for a clinical trial, 79% of them returned to the referring physician, and 11% continued to see both the referring physician and the study doctor.
Consider all this evidence alongside the findings that more than a third of patients participating in clinical studies were referrals. Not only does this dispel the myth that doctors don’t refer, but it suggests there may be room to significantly increase that percentage.
Time for Action
While the findings from the Study Voices survey reveal opportunities to engage physicians as partners in the clinical trial enrollment process, it’s not enough. To truly move beyond the myth requires leaving the conversation behind and moving to action. With this new evidence, sponsors should feel empowered to take more dramatic measures to engage the physician community and build relationships to support clinical trial enrollment success.
Strategies for consideration should include:
- Engaging physicians as partners early in the clinical trial process.
- Evaluating protocol complexity and study appeal from a patient-centric mindset.
- Rethinking the audience, recognizing physicians as an untapped resource for referrals.
- Investing in an online presence to educate physicians and encourage referrals.
For more information on this topic, including comprehensive action steps for study sponsors, please download Referring Physicians and Clinical Trial Enrollment: Moving Beyond the Myth. This data-rich white paper provides insight into the perceptions, attitudes, and patterns surrounding physician referrals, as well as strategies sponsors can implement to realize the full potential of physicians as partners in the clinical trial process.