How AI is used for participant recruitment

The medical device recruitment sector is increasingly focused on improving the user experiences through technology. Terms such as ‘participant-centric’ and initiatives centred around ‘user-centricity’ or ‘user-experience’ (UX) have gained prominence in recent years and using tech for participant engagement can significantly increase recruitment and retention rates.

But what does enhanced participant recruitment entail and how can technology support it? Put simply, this is the ideology of easing the burden for anyone taking part in the research study.

Why do participants take part in research studies?

Numerous individuals opt to engage in medical device evaluations or research studies owing to personal circumstances, such as confronting complex health conditions or having limited treatment choices that they're eager to see progress. Likewise, family members or friends who have been affected might also wish to participate. Healthcare professionals frequently advocate for more effective and secure products and willingly contribute their time and expertise beyond their regular roles to aid in this process.

Once a participant has expressed an interest in joining a study – either by advertising on social media, search engines, the recruiters network or word of mouth – they look to identify the advantages of taking part.

What are the recruitment challenges faced by participants?

Before they are given the chance to participate each participant undergoes a comprehensive evaluation by the recruiter to verify their alignment with the precise participant criteria specified by the end client. This could include using a certain make or model of a particular device, or having a rare or limiting condition at a certain level. Challenges associated with this process arise from participants occasional unfamiliarity with the medical terms of the products they use, often using a generalised term that encompasses multiple variations rather than a specific product. Tech can mitigate these challenges by way of implementing a digital screening form, which effectively identifies and excludes individuals unable to confirm the requisite level of detail.

What are the recruitment challenges faced by recruiters?

Throughout the process of recruiting participants, additional complexities may arise. Individuals with uncommon or specific conditions frequently experience symptoms that vary daily. While one day (Day 1) and the following (Day 3) might be relatively manageable, the subsequent day (Day 2)and the one after (Day 4) could present heightened challenges. Determining the severity of their symptoms while they complete the screening questionnaire on a particular day poses a dilemma. In most instances, there exists no concept of an "average" day; rather, days are typically classified as either "good" or "bad." This aspect introduces a substantial element of uncertainty into the assessment process, which is a concern for recruiters, participants, and the end client alike, impacting their decisions regarding study participation and subsequent reporting.

Participants with reduced mobility may have symptoms that hinder their ability to attend on-site visits due to travel difficulties. Adhering to evaluation protocols including medical schedules and carer visits can also be a concern. Such individuals often lack the time and energy to research ongoing evaluations, enrolment processes, and eligibility criteria. Even if a suitable evaluation study is found, participants might struggle to fully engage.

Alleviating the financial strain from participants

One significant challenge for participants is the financial strain associated with taking part in a study. Whether it’s the expenses related to travel or taking time off work, participants face a daunting decision when weighing the benefits against the costs of joining at study. At Aderico Medical are clear from the start on how, what and when each participant receives the incentive package and this is communicated at the beginning of the recruitment process. We are often involved in recruiting for remote research studies (usually at formative stage) which eliminates travel costs and provide an alternative experience for the participant.

How can tech by leveraged to meet individual needs of participants

As the medical device research landscape evolves, participant burdens must be prioritized. The industry now possesses the technology to provide participants with comprehensive information about studies, track their engagement and retention and provide them with updates automatically. Leveraging this tech we need to be capitalising on tailoring a flexible evaluation design that caters to individual needs, thereby creating a Next-gen participant experience.

The question we should be asking is, "How can we simplify this for participants?" Given the array of available technology, designing evaluations tailored to individual needs becomes feasible. This is when technology can be employed to minimize on-site visits, enable self-reporting, send mobile alerts, and offer a personalized approach for participants.

However, the Next-Gen participant experience extends beyond flexible evaluation structures. To enhance engagement further, we need to amplify the participant's voices, ensuring that their feedback matters and that they will receive support through out their journey as a participant. This necessitates meeting participants on their terms. If technology alienates them or diminishes their willingness to engage, it must be addressed.

Participant recruitment for medical and healthcare device evaluation studies is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach. Prioritizing the participant experience is paramount. Without participants, evaluations cannot exist, and without evaluations, medical research for better, safer and more effective devices stagnates. Technology empowers us to push boundaries and seize opportunities like never before and we must take full advantage of that.

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