December 21, 2017

In research we trust

Credibility of information sources is central to the success of any engagement programme in biomedical research, as Tudor Reilly Health (TRH) explained in CenterWatch interviews as 2017 drew to a close.

The December 2017 issue of The CenterWatch Monthly, a respected publication for the clinical research industry, surveyed the overall patient recruitment landscape; assessing the relative merits of practices ranging from centralised advertising and mass-media campaigns, through to big data analysis and the mining of electronic medical records. In conversation with Peter Coë, Managing Director and Co-Founder of TRH, The CenterWatch Monthly asked about the agency’s approach to patient advocacy group outreach; a powerful localised tactic that can boost yields from clinical trial websites many times over.

“We know from our own analytics that people who come to a clinical trial website from patient groups, as opposed to cold advertising, are 30 to 40 times more likely to complete the eligibility questionnaire successfully — as well as being a much more likely candidate for referral,” said Peter. “Often, people who come through cold advertising fill in the questionnaire out of curiosity, not because they are serious about joining a clinical study. If they come from a patient group, they are much more engaged.”

Elsewhere, CWWeekly, a newsletter from the same publishing group, covered the new collaboration between the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Library of Medicine to promote the NIH’s All of Us research programme through public libraries.

Formerly known as the Precision Medicine Initiative, All of Us aims to gather data from at least one million US citizens, using the resulting insights to accelerate research and improve health. The plan is to recruit a cohort of research participants representative of the country’s large and diverse population.

In All of Us, Pete Chan, Head of Research & Analysis at TRH, sees an important opportunity to make medical research more inclusive, such that more drugs ultimately come to market with data demonstrating effectiveness in the patient populations they are ultimately prescribed to treat. He also thinks bringing onboard local libraries as partners was a clever move, leveraging their position as trusted and familiar information sources for many local communities.

“I’d expect to see good uptake, leading to better overall understanding of, and willingness to take part in, biomedical research,” Pete told CWWeekly. And he hopes it will become a case of a rising tide lifting all boats: “In turn, the pharmaceutical industry may benefit indirectly in the years to come, in the sense that a population that’s primed and research-ready may take a more positive view of pharma-sponsored and academic clinical trials alike.”

The importance of the internet in promoting awareness of medical research is now widely accepted. But smart clinical innovators know effective communications programmes — be they digital, traditional, or a blend of both ­— need to be delivered through the channels that patients trust the most.