Technology has single-handedly altered the face of clinical research as we know it. From the selection of suitable participants to communication with both patients and research staff during data collection, the use of technology has made clinical trials far more automated and organised.
Here are 3 primary areas in which these improvements have occurred as well as the types of technology that are facilitating these changes in clinical trials everywhere.
It’s often difficult to find suitable candidates for any given clinical research study. Traditionally, newspaper and radio ads have been the standbys that attracted viable study participants. Technology, however, has made the process more efficient and targeted.
Dedicated Web Pages
Researchers can now utilise web pages to draw candidates to a particular study. Participants are able to find these web pages via search engines and through various forms of online advertising.
The biggest advantage of a dedicated web page is that a candidate can learn about a study before participating. This is opposed to reading a condensed ad or hearing a snippet about the trial on the radio. Web pages are one form of technology that effectively educate trial candidates, leading to a more targeted group of participants for researchers.
When conventional advertising methods – such as newspaper and radio ads – are used, candidates often have to “call in” to see if they are eligible for a particular study. This requires phone screening, which is a lengthy and time-consuming process.
With dedicated web pages, online screening can take place, saving time and personnel attention. In addition to asking relevant medical information, the an online questionnaire can screen for practical factors, such as availability, location, and willingness to undergo procedures.
Online screening forms can include questions like “How close are you to the research site?” and “Can you come to the research location 6 times in 6 months?” and so on. Make the most out of the pre-screening process by asking all relevant questions electronically.
Technology has made it easier to communicate with trial participants, as well as research staff. Automated emails, SMS (text messages), and even pre-recorded audio reminders delivered via phone calls are making researcher-patient communication more effective and efficient.
For example, SMS or automated emails can remind participants about appointment and other pertinent prompts (e.g. “Remember to take the medication today at 8 am.”) can also be sent via automated messages.
3. Data Collection
Many clinical studies involve the use of electronic questionnaires. For example, surveys may ask something as simple as “Rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10.” These queries can all be answered online, giving candidates an opportunity to respond with their computers or smartphones wherever they happen to be. They may no longer have to visit the research site, making the process easier and cheaper for both researchers and participants.
In addition to SMS (text messages), email, and online questionnaires, special applications can be developed that make it simple for a patient to enter data into their smartphone, which then gets automatically logged on the researcher’s side.
These apps can also send out reminders and other data that would have previously required time-intensive phone calls. Smartphone apps are inexpensive to develop and save time and resources, making them an invaluable addition to the clinical trial process.
Technology is beginning to play a much larger role in the patient recruitment and data collection of many clinical trials. Most likely, there is an area in your trial that can be improved with the implementation of a simple web page, online screening questionnaire, or other automated system. Consider how you can boost efficiency in your study.
Not sure where to start? Let Trialfacts help. We have all the tools to assist you in recruiting patients for your clinical trial. We know firsthand how to make the most of technology in clinical studies.