The clinical service provider – whose move into online recruitment is in keeping with current industry-wide trends – said the new resource will create an online community of people willing to participate in trials and thereby accelerate recruitment.
Quintiles’ digital unit will enlist candidates using a combination of sources, including the online patient community www.MediGuard.org which currently boasts 2.5 million registered users - a population the CRO is seeking to expand by inviting former users of the (now defunct) Google Health group to join.
Other resources the unit will use include Quintiles’ second patient community www.ClinicalResearch.com, which has 165 thousand registered users, and patients seeking health management information for themselves.
The firm claims the digital process will better manage patient populations, allowing researchers to cherry pick their subjects more readily.
David Coman, senior VP at Quintiles, and head of its new Digital Patient unit, told Outsourcing-Pharma: "We already know that patients are aggressively seeking solutions to their personal health care. People are literally more likely to seek personal health solutions online than to check the weather. The digital patient unit exists to simply to build a bridge.
"Quintiles' digital patient unit will help patients find opportunities not only for clinical development, but also for observational research and disease management programs. From our perspective, it’s time to go from experimentation to scalable solutions in all three areas."
Quintiles is the latest in a line of firms to jump on the online recruitment bandwagon.
In November, California firm BioTrak spun out its increasingly successful patient recruitment unit to create Patient Recruiters International, at the same time creating the online community GoHealthPanel to provide further support.
The Mayo Clinic also made record-breaking progress in September when it recruited all patients for a study of spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) in just one week using a rare disease-specific social networking site.
And Quintiles is not the only organisation touting social networking as the next phenomena in patient recruitment.
Patient recruitment specialists Blue Chip conducted a study, finding that networking sites offered companies unprecedented lines of communication with subjects – essential for building trust within the process.
And at last year’s Patient Recruitment Outsourcing (PRO) conference, panellists urged the industry to get over its fear of the unknown and to adopt the method in more studies.
“More has changed in the past 18 months than the past 18 years,” Liz Moench, president and CEO of MediciGlobal, told attendees at Outsourcing-Pharma’s symposium.
She added that 'patient recruitment' is becoming 'patient engagement', and that companies must be comfortable with social media.