The most challenging criterion was to find patients during their first schizophrenic episode who had not been on medication for more than two weeks. Existing site databases were not relevant as they contained patients who were already receiving treatment. Furthermore, being that patients were only experiencing their first episode, they were not always aware of their ailment. This was even more of a challenge since the diagnosis needed to be made by the PI at the site itself.
Thorough research was conducted to understand the online actions that a potential patient will engage in after suffering from an initial psychotic episode, including the terms used to search for answers, the websites visited, and forums joined. The strategy was to target the patient’s caregivers - mostly parents and spouses who were witnesses to the first episode of their loved one.. nRollmed built a website designed to contain an explanation of the symptoms, so that visitors would understand the relevance of the clinical trial to their loved one’s condition. A dedicated call center conducted initial pre-screening to reduce site overwhelm and to make sure patients seeking urgent help would be contacted within 7 minutes of expressing interest in the trial. Within a few weeks the nRollmed campaign was up and running. Information was gathered regarding the distance patients were willing to travel to be part of the trial, and the geographical area in which the campaign was visible was amended accordingly.
25% of patients recruited to the study were generated and pre-screened by nRollmed. This result represented a higher benefit to the client, compared to the pro-rata involvement of nRollmed, which was responsible only for part of the sites in less than half of the recruitment period.