Who to choose? Global vs. Local patient recruitment providers
Probably every local patient recruitment vendor in the industry with a local focus has heard this sentence at least once:
„We like your approach and thank you for the detailed proposal. However, I am afraid that on this occasion we have moved forward with another provider who has a global presence which is more convenient for our needs“
At this point, you’re disappointed with not getting the project, however, one understands how convenience is often the pivotal reason in decision making. Nonetheless, you have to question, if the most convenient way is the most effective way?! Therefore, we want to discuss the choice of global vs. local patient recruitment vendors with their respective up and downsides.
It is understandable to wish for as few contact persons as possible for a given project since the communication and work of each of us has become fragmented and exponentially more complex over the last decades. Therefore a global vendor has the obvious benefit of having all information for global patient recruitment activities centralized at one company. Having multiple vendors may result in having to manage four to five different contact persons, each company having different processes and different recruitment approaches. In addition to that, including multiple vendors into recruitment activities means adding the same amount of regulatory and contract set up before you can even start to include the first patient referred by a vendor into your clinical trial.
Assuming that less effort in vendor management is often the biggest underlying rationale for choosing a global vendor, a couple of crucial reasons underline that going with local vendors is probably not the most convenient way, but the more effective way of getting patients into your clinical trial.
- We see dramatic changes not only in world demographics and economics but also markets becoming much more complex and competitive, indicating that the time for one size fits all solutions is over. Complexity and speed of development within markets require new solutions which dramatically increased the development speed of innovations. Especially digitization offers digital solutions for analog problems. In terms of patient recruitment, this means addressing a larger patient population much more selectively with lesser scattering losses through online channels. However, not every company can follow the rapidly advancing change process and benefit from new given circumstances. Innovative solutions are more likely to be found in smaller companies that are not tied to long processes and can react more quickly to market changes and regulations, especially in niche segments.
- Talking about regulation, we know that every country has it’s own very specific regulatory construct. Safely navigating within the regulatory boundaries is very important when working with patients and highly sensible data. Furthermore, as business environments change, regulation also underlies constant change which needs to be addressed. Here local vendors often position themselves long before new regulations become effective, allowing them to leverage their local knowledge or reducing the risk of blind spots when it comes to new regulation. Taking the GDPR regulation as an example, local providers were forced to quickly adapt in terms of marketing and data privacy issues, making sure that they working within the boundaries of the new regulations when recruiting for a clinical trial.
- The Importance of in-depth knowledge about demographics and local culture. For example, in very traditional and old fashioned cultures, the targeting of female patients who suffer from a chronic illness may not show any success. In some of those cultures, the ultimate decision of participating in a clinical trial, still solely lies within the male members of the family making it enormously harder to recruit patients for a given clinical trial. This is, of course, an extreme example showing the importance of local knowledge. Nonetheless, patient profiles vary over different countries and different cultures, making an adapted recruitment strategy for every country highly important to meet increasingly diverse markets in which we operate. Additionally, local vendors usually have important information on existing patient populations within a country, aside from the typical focus on big urban areas.
- Transparency and trust. Patients today are more invested and self-empowered in their disease than ever before. Additionally, patients are more critical than ever regarding what happens to their personal and especially health data. Local patient platforms or vendors heavily invest in gaining the trust of patients. They not only provide content or form patient communities, they breakup prejudices and create transparency about clinical research, building a profound and deep relationship with patients. So who do you think they will trust when they are approached with a possible trial participation? A global vendor, who has most likely only one contact point with the patient, or a local patient recruitment vendor, who fostered the relationship through constant contact via multiple touchpoints?
Projects often fail due to a lack of global scale, but is the global scale of a vendor something which gives you the best outcome? Considering the increasing complexity of markets and regulations, probably not! In an increasingly complex world, it is simply not enough to take the easy way out.
The next time you are faced with the decision of global vs. local, keep in mind that it might be very convenient to work with a global vendor, but you will most likely have a high variance throughout countries regarding the quality of referred patients.
Ultimately, to stay competitive, it must be the goal of local vendors, to simplify, streamline and optimize the whole process of collaboration with pharma as much as possible. By keeping the overhead to a minimum and therefore diminishing the convenience benefit of global vendors. Automatically, it becomes increasingly more attractive to work with local vendors given the number of advantages they provide.
Based on our experience at Mondosano in working with sponsors and sites, part of minimizing overhead in working with you as local vendor is optimizing the onboarding and management of participating study sites. Gradually starting with expectation management before recruitment for a trial starts by demonstrating to the sites that a patient recruitment vendor is not just significantly increasing the workload of a study site due to poorly pre-qualified patients, but helping them to get to recruitment goals quicker by getting pre-qualified and motivated patients. Over to a smooth onboarding regarding workflows continuing with clear communication during the whole project.
If you want to find out about some providers based in Europe where some, not all are only regionally active, click this link