Patient Recruitment & EHR

For some reason I’ve been recently talking and reading more and more about patient recruitment. I’ve been fascinated by the creative ways that those doing the clinical studies use to be able to recruit patients that fit the very specific needs of most clinical studies. Plus, I’ve been amazed at how much money is required to be able to recruit patients for these studies.

There’s so many interesting quirks involved in the whole patient recruitment business. In most cases, it’s very large companies trying to recruit individual patients. Many of the chronic patients want to know about and be involved in the clinical study. In many cases, it can lead to a great mutually beneficial outcome for both the company that’s doing the clinical study and the patient who receives care that they wouldn’t have otherwise received. Of course, there are A LOT more intricacies involved in patient recruitment, but those are a few of them.

The biggest challenge with patient recruitment is usually finding the right patients for the clinical study. I think we’re on the brink of technology largely solving this problem for clinical researchers.

EHR Software for Patient Recruitment
When you think about the volume of data that’s going into an EHR system, you can see how valuable the granular EHR data could be in identifying which patients are eligible for a certain clinical study. Certainly there are plenty of nuances to when and how you can use this information. I won’t get into those in this post, but I think it’s quite clear that EHR software will be essential to patient recruitment in clinical studies.

I’m sure that some won’t like to hear this. My first response is that this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, if done right it can be a great thing. We just need to be involved in the discussion so that patient recruitment with EHR software is done the right way. My second response is that this is going to happen whether people like it or not. Instead of trying to stop it, we should focus on how to make it work well for everyone.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • In order for this to be done well, don’t we need a data structure that is actually shared?

    Sure this could be done at some hospitals.

    Add to this that mined patient data must be de-personalized…it is actually being “de-personalized” wink wink nudge nudge?

  • And a follow on…
    How might this work?

    If I have a chronic illness, can I expect a letter in the mail stating, “we see you have this chronic illness and would like you to participate in our study…”

    If you haven’t noticed, I do get worked up about privacy.

  • John Brewer,
    A shared data structure would be nice, but isn’t always necessary.

    In these cases the data wouldn’t be de-personalized. Instead you’d need the patient’s consent to be able to give out their information.

    There actually was a case I wrote a blog post about before (can’t find it) where a patient got a letter because his info was sold. This is why we need to be part of the discussion since it’s reasonable to send that letter if they’ve consented.

  • Patient recruitment is assisted by EHR utilization. The real trick is getting very granular with all the inclusion and exclusion parameters so not have limitless list to evaluate. Various EHR are using various mechanisms such as GreenWay and RecruitAssist. NextGen has an add on Application Called ReCES, sold by Simbiote Development. Each of these assist in various ways but the real time alert with NextGen really removes the stumbling blocks of provider participation

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