Participant recruitment can be a significant hurdle in clinical trials. With reduced patient foot traffic at hospitals, the challenge in recruitment will continue to grow in the current context. Currently, participants are typically recruited for trials by treating physicians, and/or clinical research associates as a part of the participant’s circle of care. eRecruitment can be a useful tool in recruiting study participants and can be categorized into two broad strategies, participant-driven and institution-driven. Participant driven eRecruitment involves the participant actively searching for resources and opportunities to participate in a clinical trial as part of their care. Institution driven eRecruitment involves “permission to contact” programs and identifying potential participants through database searches of EMRs. This strategy is often supported by new technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence, that can improve how we identify and recruit participants in trials.
However, in many institutions patients are not automatically “opted-in” to be approached for research as a part of normal care. Further, many hospitals do not have the infrastructure to run artificial intelligence solutions and must vet privacy and security risks of such solutions. Acquisition and implementation costs for tools/systems to support EMR search tools and reporting. Organizational policies around use of social and electronic media for recruitment purposes are not well established.
Participant driven approaches must implement proper processes to support privacy during recruitment activities. Further, there may be a necessity of screening eligibility of potential participants after self-selection (e.g., when social media used for recruitment purposes).