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A unique text messaging service could see an increase in the number of participants signing up for clinical trials, after an initial study found a hike in enrolment for a vaccine trial in North America.

Designed and implemented by Moiso, Inc. the text messaging campaign found a 1% increase in subjects enrolling to the trial for every 1.5% increase in text messages sent out, according to results published in Applied Clinical Trials magazine. Over the eight week period in which the scheme was implemented, 1,541 text messages were sent out, resulting in a screening of 795 patients and an enrolment of 265 patients to the trial, five times the response recorded by the company via previous enrolment methods.

The clinical research facility Johnson County Clin-Trials, based in Kansas, was the company behind the study. Mazen Zari, Co-Founder, Acting VP and Director of Operations at the organisation said: “The minute we sent the texts, we would immediately get a lot of calls. It was not double or triple, but five times the response compared to our email campaigns. Our enrolment results exceeded the trial sponsor’s expectations.

“We were initially concerned that patients weren’t going to find text messaging useful, but on the contrary, patients really liked it.”

Use of the Mosio system can be continued once a patient has signed up to a clinical trial – text messages can be sent out as a reminder to trial participants to take their medication, attend appointments, complete surveys and engage in other such behaviour modifications.

Noel Chandler, Co-Founder and CEO of Mosio, said: “This study has demonstrated that text messaging through a strategic and powerful patient engagement platform is an effective tool to engage patients for clinical trial recruitment and enrolment by connecting with participants on the devices they use every day.”

If implemented in the UK, Pharma companies could expect to see a similar increase in signups to their own clinical trials. The success of clinical trials is often influenced by three factors: patient recruitment, retention and medication adherence. Patient dropout can be expensive to the companies running the trials. In one study, 17% of patients dropped out, costing on average £2,600 per participant who left the trial.

Traditionally, clinical trial campaigns have relied on emails to entice participants to sign up. However, recent statistics suggest that 98% of text messages received are read, compared to just 22% of emails. Add to that the fact that 90% of text messages are read within the first three minutes of being received, a move to mobile campaigning is the obvious next step for clinical trial organisations.

Figures from the National Institute of Health Research found that almost 638,000 patients volunteered for medical trials in the UK in 2012, the vast majority of which were NHS patients willing to test potential treatments for their condition. By using a text messaging service to reach out to a wider potential pool of participants, developers could see their drug brought to the market quicker.

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