Using cell phone, smartphone and tablet device capabilities to enroll patients into clinical trials may be an answer to the problem of recruitment, according to a number of industry experts. Based on the ever-increasing reliance on smartphones*, companies are developing apps that provide registered clinical trial information for oncologists and cancer patients. Several companies also propose text messaging technology for recruitment because even "non-smart" cell phones are equipped for texting and most people know how to do it.
One approach to using texting is to provide multiple ways to contact the study - via text, phone or website - as part of traditional recruitment advertisements. When an interested person texts the designated number on a poster or flyer, an automated system responds with eligibility questions and additional trial details. Once determined to be eligible, candidates will receive a call from an operator who confirms their interest and then passes the information on to the study staff for further contact.
Another strategy is for sponsors or lead investigators to alert appropriate referral physicians about particular studies via text. (Reportedly, texts are more likely than email to be opened and read.) In turn, physicians would alert potentially eligible patients via text or by phone or email. In this way,the "new" technology would facilitate the physician-patient communication which can have such a strong effect on patients' decision-making.
Of course, the effectiveness of mobile recruiting would depend on the study cohort and the investigator's willingness to text patients. Do any AccrualNet readers have experience with this? What are your thoughts?
*86 percent of U.S. adults now own some kind of cell phone, according to the 2012 Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project survey and about half of those people use one to access the Internet.