May 2nd, 2018

Why Aren’t Doctors Telling Their Patients About Clinical Trials?

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Though patients are interested in clinical research, their doctors aren’t talking about clinical trials. Here’s how CROs and sponsors can continue to tap into patient interest.

Recruiting patients for a clinical trial can be a time-consuming and expensive process. The estimated annual cost of U.S. clinical trials is $7 billion, with nearly $2 billion of that total going toward patient recruitment.

Even if sponsors and CROs manage to meet the minimum patient requirement, delays in recruitment can set the whole process behind. In fact, only about 15% of clinical trials end on time, and more than 50% of delays are related to recruitment problems.

A recent report from the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) found that 71% of people worldwide who have not participated in a clinical trial would be willing to. Yet only 25% of people managing a disease have had their doctor or nurse recommend a clinical trial as a treatment option.

As trusted healthcare providers, doctors have the power to vastly increase clinical trial participation – so long as they have the right tools. Sponsors and CROs can encourage doctors to become more engaged in clinical trials while simultaneously using digital channels to address challenges in patient recruitment.

The Interest is There

The CISCRP’s 2017 Perceptions & Insights Study questioned nearly 12,500 individuals worldwide, showing that the majority of people are interested in learning about clinical trials, though 90% of those surveyed have never been asked by their doctor.

While doctors are unlikely to recommend clinical trials, 61% of people without clinical trial experience say that they would probably begin their search by talking to their healthcare provider. This missed opportunity may be due to the fact that doctors lack information about clinical trials that are relevant to their patients.

In research conducted by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, it becomes clear that the problem is about communication. About 90% of physicians surveyed said they feel comfortable discussing clinical trials with their patients, while less than 0.2% actively refer them to studies. These doctors reported that they lack access to trial information (54%), do not know where to refer patients (48%), or do not have the time to learn about active trails (33%).

Finding a Solution

As healthcare providers have traditionally been a main source for clinical trial patients, these results present a challenge for CROs and sponsors. However, patients’ interest in clinical trials and their desire to consult their doctors about trial information offer an opportunity to increase enrollment.

Sponsors and CROs can address the situation head-on by providing doctors the information and support they need to confidently recommend trials to their patients. Pharma companies may also want to take a more active role in approaching doctors, making sure to offer them trial details well in advance of the enrollment period.

On the other hand, the CISCRP’s findings present an opportunity for CROs and sponsors to recruit patients directly. Studies show that 53% of patients who know about clinical trials found out about them online, which opens up a new avenue for recruitment. By using digital marketing strategies like paid search and social media ads, clinical trials can reach new audiences, including millennials.

With these strategies in mind, clinical trials can be proactive in reaching out to doctors and giving them the tools to recruit patients. CROs and sponsors can also supplement these initiatives by using new methods like digital marketing to successfully lower costs.