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“When it comes to dedication, ICTS is second to none. Our study was in crisis mode. Everything we tried had failed. ICTS developed a novel approach to physician referral that prevented yet another round of adding investigators.”
Project Director, Top 50 Pharmaceutical Company

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  • March 11

Slow is Smooth…Smooth is Fast 


We’ve all heard the stories of clinical trial recruitment programs that resulted in so many referrals to sites in such a short time period that the actual enrollment rates suffered. This is most likely due to loosely developed pre-screening and targeting, coordinators having trouble completing out bound follow-up calls due to the bombardment of inbound referrals. The vast majority of outbound follow-up calls result in far too many non-qualified inquiries and those that may have qualified are lost due to the amount of time that transpired between their inquiry and the follow-up call. If your study coordinators become frustrated with the central recruitment program you have lost the battle.

Managing site referral traffic from patient recruitment campaigns can be time consuming at start-up but will always result in better site relations and much smoother enrollment. This, in turn, will deliver a more cost efficient enrollment campaign. Spending a little extra at start-up will save a lot during the course of your study. As the old Fram Oil Filter commercials used to espouse, “You can pay me now….or pay me later”.

Depending upon the difficulty and depth of the inclusion exclusion criteria and the tightness of the pre-screener, managing referrals to come in slowly with a higher level of qualification will create a smoother flow through at the site. This smooth flow will result in fewer wasted opportunities to lack of interest, untimely follow-up and missed appointments. The smoother the enrollment process for the study coordinator the more likely the enrollment opportunity will be realized. Thus, smooth is fast, since a more qualified candidate who is not rushed through the process is more likely to enroll than those that were part of a flood of loosely qualified referrals demanding much more of the coordinator’s time.

Here are five things to consider when developing your outreach tactics in relation to referrals and site flow-through:

1. Thoroughly define your outreach target audience. Shoot for the sweet-spot. Target by age, gender, location, interests and more. Narrow your outreach as much as possible.

2. Develop tight pre-screening without creating a sense of self-diagnosis. Which questions are most likely to be answerable by potential candidates? Eliminate questions that are less likely to disqualify someone to keep the script short.

3. Determine how much appointment time should be allocated. How many new inquiry candidates, how many screening visits and how much in-study time can each individual site handle in a week?

4. Make sure your outreach plan is monitored, analyzed and adjusted throughout the campaign on a site-by-site and tactic-by-tactic basis to optimize efficiency.

5. Listen to your study coordinators and learn from what they tell you. Coordinators are on the front line of your enrollment campaign. Keep them motivated.