How to Boost Patient Enrollment in a Global IBD Trial

For one of the largest-ever global IBD trials, we knew our sponsor’s success depended on identifying the right sites and keeping them engaged.


Therapeutic Area: IBD

Geography: 40 countries

Sites: 400

Patients: 800 (planned)

Current Status:

  • Patient enrollment on schedule
  • PSI is on track to enroll 500 patients by year-end

How to Engage Investigators & Patients in the Highly Competitive IBD Landscape

After a large pharmaceutical company delivered enrollment 60 days ahead of schedule for a Phase 2 inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) study with PSI CRO, the sponsor faced a new challenge: one of the largest-ever IBD programs in the same indication. Competition for IBD patients is fierce, and we knew success depended on not only identifying the right sites but also keeping them engaged throughout the duration.

The sponsor engaged PSI to manage 400 sites and enroll 800 patients across 40 countries. With the length and size of the study, many sites went silent after the initial excitement. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic introduced a whole new set of extraordinary challenges, which was especially noticeable during the summer months – already a typically slow period, but also when many countries implemented additional restrictions to slow the spread of new variants that made enrollment even more difficult.

To re-energize the study team and keep enrollment on track, the sponsor introduced a new incentive campaign with PSI modeled after the Summer Olympics to foster a sense of friendly competition.

3 Steps to Empower Your Sites

  1. Create a compelling, inclusive campaign to motivate sites

PSI divided the study teams to stand for their respective countries and introduced the following scoring system:

  • Gold medal: Awarded for every subject randomization
  • Silver medal: Awarded for every subject screening
  • Bronze medal: Awarded for every subject rescreening

The project team developed creative materials and branding to engage the teams during the campaign and made sure that countries of all sizes stayed visible within the competition thanks to an averaged rating system.

  1. Invest time into building close relationships with the site teams

To be truly patient-centric, a CRO needs to first be site-centric. Our mission is to make the site’s life in clinical trials as trouble-free as possible. It’s not easy, because clinical trial protocols are typically overcomplicated by all sorts of requirements that add work to the site staff already exhausted by routine medical practice. That’s why we are focused on building site support processes, working closely with the site staff to prevent and fix any signs of screening and enrollment delays.

PSI works carefully with each investigator to increase the percentage of patients entering the study, providing training and resources so the site teams understand the best moment to screen patients for the study and that screen failure patients could be reassessed. The project team provides extra support to sites and patients with personal protective equipment, implements additional procedures for direct shipment of the drug to patients’ homes, identifies a big network of local labs to minimize trips during the pandemic, and arranges comfortable and safe conditions for patients’ travel or travel reimbursement.

  1. Build on a long-standing partnership

With the same leadership team in place since 2015 for the program, including the same Global PM and Co-Manager from the Phase 2 Study, the PSI teams draw on their experience from previous studies for this client during the competition. PSI Country Managers and Clinical Operations colleagues are also engaged to help the project teams come together to meet a common goal. It’s great to have a stable global team on such a complex project.

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