September 5, 2018
Patient Recruitment Jenga: Shared Lessons in Stability and Coordination
Patient recruitment and this classic block-stacking game share universal lessons in alignment, balance, and the need for a strong foundation.
Seemingly straightforward, the block-stacking game Jenga®️ is one that requires coordination, precision, and strategy. Finding the right block to move becomes increasingly difficult as the game proceeds, with the path to continued success requiring a full view of the tower. As each player takes their turn, the instability grows until it reaches critical mass, collapsing on itself. Jenga comes from the Swahili word Kujenga, meaning “to build,” and the complexity found in its simplicity offers us a metaphor in alignment, balance, and a foundation built by experience.
So, what lessons can we learn about recruiting patients for clinical trials from this classic game?
Coordination is the Cornerstone of Long-Term Success
Imbalance in patient recruitment planning makes the process more difficult than necessary. Integration between services like insights, advocacy, media and creative delivers a broad, more complete picture of the patient landscape than a siloed model could, with each integrated service informing and affecting one another, culminating in a progressive, agile recruitment plan. Treating patient recruitment components separately – or allowing different partners to execute different aspects of the plan – is short-sighted and risky. The media analytics you synthesize into insights can help you refine creative messaging. The relationships advocacy teams make can help refine screeners. Primary qualitative research informs both patient-facing and HCP-facing site materials. Take away even one aspect of these services and, like removing the wrong block from your tower, the instability will spread.
“Treating patient recruitment components separately – or allowing different partners to execute different aspects of the plan – is short-sighted and risky.”
A Little Wobble is Ok
Planning for instability is the best way to overcome it and operating with that kind of agility requires confidence that only comes from experience. If a drop in patient satisfaction during even one of the weeks of a trial can be anticipated (maybe because of a long or painful site visit), a communication plan can be put in place to combat the dissatisfaction and reestablish trust between patients and sites. If site coordinators are having trouble recruiting patients, their challenges can be identified and met with understanding and tangible help. Hiccups can’t be avoided altogether, but if little wobbles are handled with grace, they won’t bring the whole tower down.
There’s No Substitute for Experience
Many components of patient recruitment are the same or similar across projects. These are mostly tactics – funneling patients, presenting branding and materials to the IRB, supporting sites and HCPs. But for all the things trials have in common, their list of differences is twice as long. Maneuvering quickly through start-up and making adjustments throughout the entire span of the trial is a complex process, one that benefits from years of experience. The starting points may be identical – your Jenga tower will always have 54 blocks – but as soon as you make the first move, the game becomes wholly its own. Drawing on experience, whether it’s in a therapeutic area or indication or with a target audience, establishes a foundation positioned to deliver success.
“Maneuvering quickly through start-up and making adjustments throughout the entire span of the trial is a complex process, one that benefits from years of experience.”
Recruiting patients for clinical trials is intricate and complex. Doing it well requires foresight, planning, agility, and experience. In any phase and at any milestone, we are given opportunities to adjust, to reevaluate, and to build a better plan, a taller tower. Work with a partner with the vision to see the entire game, to create and execute an integrated strategy built for success.
Want more information on how Continuum Clinical can design a patient recruitment strategy to help you reach your milestones? Contact us!