June 15, 2022 | Net Health

3 Minute Read

The Dos & Don’ts of Clinical Trial Participant Retention

Imagine you spent weeks planning for a great party. The food, entertainment, and decorations were all carefully thought-out, and everything was in place for a great event. Lots of people showed up; then, everyone started to leave, just as things were getting good. 

Clinical trial sponsors know just how that party host feels. Participants dropping out of a study a few days or even a few months in is a huge problem. It’s estimated about 30% or more of patients drop out of trials before completion1, and COVID has made rates even higher. As a result, those involved in developing and implementing clinical trials are actively seeking ways to keep patients enrolled and engaged throughout the length of the trial. 

While there’s no single solution, there are several things to do and not to do to help ensure participant retention. Here are some important Do’s and Don’ts we’ve learned after implementing more than 60 clinical trials at 200 sites in the U.S. and globally.

The Dos and Don’ts of Participant Retention

Do respect the time and investment your participants are making. Before worrying about technology, protocols, or anything else involving the trial, start with an honest respect for your patients – no matter who they are or where they live.

Don’t make it all about your schedule and needs. Recognize the commitment and effort participants are making and make adjustments to meet their needs.

Do make participation in the trial as simple as possible for your participants. Consider why people have dropped out in the past. Time and scheduling conflicts are one of the top reasons people are not able to make it through a study. Mobile tech offers a “bring your own device” approach for participants and make it easier to stay engaged. Look for resources that use smartphones or tablets – something available and familiar – as a core component of participation. 

Don’t expect participants to learn complicated technology or new equipment. Incorporate resources that are familiar to participants to improve retention rates.

Do use proven patient engagement tools. Clinical trial platforms that include digital messaging, reminders and alerts help patients stay informed, engaged and on track. Plus, they help encourage patients to submit data continuously and on schedule, keeping data collection and analysis efficient.

Don’t expect patients to remember appointments or send data, even if you provide written information. We’ve found that texting patients – and allowing them to send and receive information digitally – significantly improves engagement.

Do Embrace AI-Powered Mobile Wound Care

One of the most important Do’s to consider is the use of AI-powered mobile wound care applications like Net Health’s Tissue Analytics. The technology not only works well in clinical settings, but it’s also having a significant impact on wound and skin care clinical trials. A recent study out of Australia showed that in addition to improving documentation, wound measurement and management, mobile wound care technology empowers patients and increases satisfaction in the overall care process.2 These are all vital features for trial retention.

Do Find out More; Don’t Put it Off!

Need more insights into the Dos and Don’ts of participant recruitment? Contact us today for a demonstration and check out additional resources here.

5 Rules to Enhance Dermatology & Wound Care Clinical Trials in 2022

Improve efficiency and data accuracy of clinical trials involving wounds and visual skin conditions.

Learn More

1Retention in Clinical Trials: Keeping Patients on Protocols. Advarra. March 2021.  

2Barakat-Johnson M., Jones, A., Coyer F., et al. Reshaping wound care: Evaluation of an artificial intelligence app to improve wound assessment and management amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Int Wound J. Feb. 22.  

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