New Recruitment Company Lets Docs Refer Patients for Trials
By Maxine Bookbinder
July 29, 2014 | A new international company is attempting to match CROs and sponsor companies with investigators, clinical sites, and patients, help researchers save money, increase trial recruitment, and provide real-time data, all of which, it hopes, brings new therapies to market sooner.
“We are dedicated to the clinical research industry,” says Mike Dziurkowski, marketing manager of Principal Investigators, who likens the company website to a medical LinkedIn. Based in Poland, the site launched in June 2014, targeting small and medium-sized CROs and trial sponsors worldwide. Dziurkowski says they look forward to working with larger, more established companies upon completion of their team management feature, which will enable several users from the same company to co-manage projects.
Creator Adam Kogut originated the concept two years ago in response to doctors and CROs frustrated with trial recruitment and retention difficulties. “Seventy percent of trials are delayed because of patient recruitment difficulties,” says Kogut. “Part of the blame for limited participation in clinical trials lies with researchers and their inability to recruit and ensure a required patient population.”
The company is not the first to address trial recruitment and retention, but it is the first to allow doctors to refer patients for trials, Dziurkowski says. Principal Investigators’ goal is to increase recruitment, retention, and ultimately the chances of successful trial completions through its website with minimal administrative constraints. A doctor referring patients can contact CROs with information on the number of patients that meet specific health criteria for possible referrals; no personal patient information is shared. Patient information is confidential in accordance with GCP/HIPPA regulations.
The website, designed to be user-friendly, explains in four steps how to enroll. Doctors create a free online profile and provide their own information, including clinical background, specialty, and research affiliation, and can update daily. They then can search for trials within their specialty and country or be invited to join one; the company boasts a database of approximately 18,000 global principal investigators, 49% of whom are based in the U.S.
Principal Investigators runs the platform. “We provide the possibility to post offers and apply to them,” says Dziurkowski. “We have two types of offers, clinical trial and patient referral. Users with CRO or sponsor accounts can post such offers with confidentiality agreements and feasibility files and search for doctors who specialize in a given therapeutic area and invite them to offers. We’ve also implemented a recommendation system which enables the PIs to stand out.” CROs can accept or deny offers with one click.
PIs and doctors can use the website for free. Users with CRO or sponsor accounts can buy credits from the website which allows them to publish data and get PI data; credit packages begin at $39.95 for a limited time.
Because the site is so new, it cannot yet report completed recruitments or transactions. “However,” says Dziurkowski, “I am surprised with the amount of positive feedback so quickly.”
Despite its global reach, the website is in English only. The company will consider expanding into other languages depending upon customer needs or requests.
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