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Connecting with Diverse Patients: How Call Centers Can Improve Patient Recruitment and Retention

Connecting with Diverse Patients: How Call Centers Can Improve Patient Recruitment and Retention

Do you recruit patients for clinical trials? If the answer is yes, then how do you reach potential participants? Through emails? Ads on the radio? Do you call someone and see if they are interested?

There are many different ways patients are recruited for clinical trials: in addition to the methods already mentioned, social media, conversations with healthcare providers, and even direct mailers are all well-established ways to connect with prospective clinical trial participants. Regardless of the medium used to recruit patients, one thing is certain: when a patient is pre-screened for a clinical trial, it is imperative that they are provided with the appropriate resources to address their questions or concerns quickly. Call centers can be a great resource for patients not only in the recruiting process but also throughout the clinical trial.

Patient Recruitment: Hello Operator, I Have a Question

Patient queries, in addition to being answered quickly, must also be answered by a call center representative who knows the clinical trial protocol, expectations, and processes and can ensure the patient is receiving accurate information in a hospitable, empathetic, and helpful manner. In many cases, call centers are the first impression for a study, which means if the patient feels as though their time is being taken for granted or they are not respected in the conversation, they are less likely to participate. Even worse, they might not participate in future studies, as their entire outlook on clinical trials may have negatively shifted due to one bad phone call.

By starting off on the right foot with patient recruitment, sponsors can help prospective patients feel more comfortable moving forward as a participant in the study, while also (hopefully) establishing a positive long-term relationship that leads to recruitment for future studies.

Recruiting Diverse Patients: Where to Start?

To improve health equity, the industry as a whole is pushing to incorporate more representative data for populations that have historically been marginalized. Call centers can actually be great resources to use to effectively reach patients of diverse backgrounds. How, you may ask?

Well for starters, if you’re trying to recruit patients of diverse backgrounds for your global clinical trials, it’s best to staff call centers with representatives who can speak the patient’s native language. By staffing multilingual subject matter experts who understand the parameters of the study and can break the medical jargon down in a way that prospective patients understand, you can make them feel more comfortable participating.

Beyond language, it’s also critical for these call centers to have 24/7 access. Many people in underrepresented communities tend to work long shifts or have multiple jobs and can’t take calls during work. Having a call center with around-the-clock support outside the “normal” nine-to-five routine is important to accommodate diverse potential participants.

Patient Retention: Keep Them Engaged

How many of your participants have been involved in more than one clinical trial?

If the answer is more than zero, odds are it is because they had a positive experience during their first clinical trial. For patients, particularly those of diverse backgrounds, to consider participating in another study, it’s imperative they have a positive study experience. This is also crucial for referrals; a happy patient is more likely to tell their friends, family, and general network to participate in a clinical trial.

Call centers can facilitate a positive patient experience throughout the clinical trial by not only answering concerns or questions from participants but also helping with logistics. This can be anything from handling complaints from the trial and facilitating transportation to and from the study site, to researching daycare needs or even reporting technical issues in data capture for patient diaries. 

In addition to helping patients work through any potential issues, contact centers can also track and follow a patient’s journey throughout the trial to ensure that they feel valued and heard. By leveraging technology to follow the patients’ progress, call centers can act quickly in case any issues arise and also provide visibility and insights to sponsors or study teams across clinical trial sites. This ensures that no patients slip through the cracks, and it gives site investigators more time to focus on other aspects of running the clinical trial.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking at recruiting patients of diverse backgrounds for your clinical trial, it’s critical to have call center support you can trust. There are many different options available, so when identifying your vendor, be sure to work with one that can not only develop metrics based on your expectations but also provide clear data analytics on the calls they make or receive. Also, be sure that your vendor has a proper quality assurance process in place for calls, so you can better understand patients’ incentives for staying in trials, as well as barriers that specific populations face.

TransPerfect Connect enables fast, seamless communication with patients and healthcare practitioners (HCPs) around the world through a full suite of multilingual contact center services in 200+ languages. If you’d like to learn more about our diverse patient recruitment services, get in touch today!