Pros and Cons of AI in Digital Patient Recruitment: The Future of Drug Trials

Developing new drugs is as costly as it is time-consuming. According to the Congressional Budget Office, only 12% of drugs entering clinical trials are ultimately approved for introduction by the FDA. So, why the low success rate? Federal regulatory bodies put strict measures in place to ensure that new drugs and therapeutic treatments are safe and effective for the broader population, putting an even greater emphasis on patient recruitment being as efficient as possible.

In recent years, recruitment companies and clinical researchers have turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to help with everything from streamlined administrative tasks to automated outreach and engagement—all in the hopes of saving time and money. Unfortunately, filling clinical trials isn’t as simple as typing a few sentences into ChatGPT. That said, integrating AI can make some steps in the recruitment process run more smoothly and effectively.

There are things you need to watch out for and precautions you need to take, but if you’re ready to leverage emerging technology like AI into your processes we’ve got some pros and cons that you can start considering today:

An overview of AI and clinical trials

When we talk about AI, we’re talking about computers doing things that require human intelligence. For example, a calculator is not AI because math is based on a set of predetermined equations and rules. But have you ever started writing an email to somebody only to have the service provider (whether it’s Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo) suggest how to complete your current sentence? That’s AI. 

AI is designed to learn, solve problems, and interact in the same way that humans would. These systems use algorithms and models built by computer science professionals to analyze data, recognize patterns, and make decisions—all while “learning” over time what decisions are best based on how humans interact with the output.

The benefits of AI for patient recruitment in clinical trials

Patient recruitment delays are frequent and can lead to significant impacts on clinical trials. But with the help of AI, patient recruitment companies can help identify potential candidates faster by analyzing electronic health records and other data sources. This can help to speed up the patient recruitment process and increase the likelihood that clinical trials don’t suffer delays.

AI can also limit or reduce our inherent human biases when conducting patient recruitment. Because diverse representation encourages confidence in healthcare and produces more accurate clinical findings, FDA legislation mandates that researchers enroll patients from a diverse population when testing a new drug. With the aid of AI, digital patient recruitment can lead to clinical trials that are conducted with a more diverse participant pool.

Want to be as prepared as possible? AI can use information it has either “learned” or been pre-programmed with to predict patient enrollment rates and identify any potential challenges. By analyzing historical data and patterns, AI can help researchers anticipate enrollment obstacles and improve patient recruitment processes overall.

How AI can be a disadvantage in digital patient recruitment

AI can improve digital patient recruitment efforts, but it can also come with a host of disadvantages if you’re not careful. The most common mistake patient recruitment companies make is forgetting that we’re in the people business. AI is one of many effective tools we use to get the job done, but human interaction and nuanced decision making are crucial when it comes to earning trust from potential participants. Make sure there is a significant level of human oversight on any processes that you want AI to help you get the job done.

And while AI can help reduce or eliminate our biases in patient recruitment efforts, using unsourced historical data may inadvertently perpetuate those prejudices, resulting in a lack of diverse representation in your enrollment. Again, healthcare professionals must oversee your AI implementation or you run the risk of incurring delays with your clinical trials.

1nHealth: Using every tool at our disposal to fill clinical trials faster

At 1nHealth, our mission is to advance human health by filling up research studies faster than anyone thought possible, while being great humans to clients, to each other, and to patients around the world. And our digital recruitment is designed with the patient in mind, using every tool at our disposal to be as efficient and effective as possible. But we never forget that we’re in the people business. Artificial intelligence is one of many effective tools we use to get the job done.

To learn more about 1nHealth’s approach to digital patient recruitment, contact us here.

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