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Social media is a must in patient recruitment, say PRO panelists

By Nick Taylor , 28-Sep-2011
Last updated on 03-Oct-2011 at 15:51 GMT2011-10-03T15:51:12Z

Early adopters are effectively using social media for patient recruitment and retention but in general the industry is fearful, a panelist at Patient Recruitment Outsourcing (PRO) 2011 said.

Use of social media in patient recruitment was touched on in day one of Outsourcing-Pharma’s conference, but came into focus on Tuesday. Some researchers have successfully implemented social media as a tool, said Liz Moench, president and CEO of MediciGlobal, but some still remain wary.

Reporting of adverse events via social media is one of the biggest fears of biopharm, Moench said. Industry also cites the lack of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance as a reason to avoid social media but, Moench said, this is just an excuse.

More has changed in the past 18 months than the past 18 years”, Moench said. In this new environment 'patient recruitment' is becoming 'patient engagement', Moench said, and companies must be comfortable with social media.

Despite larger patient populations clinical trials in Asia-Pacific are still frequently delayed by slow enrollment James Tsui, contacts and outsourcing manager, Roche Product Development in the region, said.

Slow recruitment is caused by the limited number of investigators and the large workloads of those that are active. Recruitment tactics effective in the West also struggle in Asia-Pacific. Patients are skeptical of clinical trials and are more likely to be convinced to participate by their physician than outreach tactics.

Whilst Eric Bolesh, research director at Cutting Edge Information (CEI), presented data gathered from surveying sponsors and vendors involved in patient recruitment. Research by CEI found patient recruitment was the number one cause of clinical trial delays.

As was said on the first day, protocol design can hinder patient recruitment. A survey respondent told CEI it sometimes seems like the protocol writers are trying to discourage enrollment, Bolesh said.

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