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One of the challenges of patient recruitment is definitely keeping up with the technological changes and successfully use all options that come with it.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in patient recruitment and retention nowadays?

One challenge I see is that the clinical research space is getting more crowded every year, with more and more similar studies running in parallel. Pharmaceutical companies compete against each other for which study is the most attractive for sites and patients to participate in.

Another challenge that also presents itself as an opportunity is the ever-changing technological environment. Pharma and our many stakeholders need to have the ability to fully utilise options such as decentralised clinical studies, real-world data, electronic health records, genotyping, blockchain, and the ongoing evolution of social media, as just a few examples.

Which recruitment strategies do you consider as the most effective?

Working with patients and tailoring strategies to the study’s patient population and specific country and region are hugely important. Partnering with patients and patient advocacy groups early along the clinical development continuum, especially in the rare disease space, is paramount to designing successful studies. This, in turn, ties into a developed social media outreach strategy that can serve as a nice complement to site-based enrolment efforts.

Personal contact with the sponsor is sometimes lacking for pharma companies performing clinical studies via a CRO. Sites very much appreciate a direct link with the company. This can motivate sites to enrol patients in studies, and also provide value insights into bottlenecks and hurdles related to study enrolment.

Furthermore, I still also consider well-made site-facing and patient-facing materials extremely important, because a well-informed patient who understands the study is more likely to complete the study than the one who didn’t fully grasp the concept of the trial.

How to improve patient and site engagement?

Co-creation with patients! So much to speak about there, but whether within study design, protocol development or at other clinical development stages, having the input of the patient is critical to clinical research moving forward. As mentioned previously, a direct link between study site and the sponsor can be an important improvement in engaging and motivating sites. Furthermore, virtual and/or remote clinical studies is a field that UCB is exploring more and more, and it can have a significantly positive effect on reducing patient burden.

Tina Bornemann, Clinical Study Patient Engagement Manager for UCB’s Global Clinical Sciences & Operations, is the member of a strong global team that provides oversight for patient recruitment and engagement efforts across UCB’s clinical studies. Tina has 16 years of experience in clinical development, with a profound background in Clinical Project Management and a passion for all things Patient Engagement.


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