UCLA Health waiting room

UCLA researchers find that they can electronically recruit patients for biomedical research at rates up to 40 times higher than the traditional method of patient portal messages by embedding study recruitment into the pre-appointment preCheck-in page.

While patient portal messages are increasingly used to recruit patients for research studies, this method typically results in study enrollment rates of 1-8%. In addition, this method of study recruitment has historically led to underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in biomedical research.

The researchers pioneered a new method of study recruitment called preCheck-in recruitment. This technique embedded all study recruitment material into the workflow that patients normally use to electronically check in before doctor visits. The researchers created a new functionality that allowed patients to review and electronically sign documents such as research authorization forms. They tested this new methodology in a two-week period in November, 2021 at a single UCLA primary care clinic. Of 843 patients seen in the clinic during that time, 386 completed preCheck-in. Of those, 308 signed the research authorization form for a 37% study enrollment rate. The enrolled sample was socio-demographically representative of the health system at-large, suggesting preCheck-in Recruitment may help improve representation in biomedical research.

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The UCLA CTSI Biostatistical, Epidemiological and Research Design Program and Biomedical Informatics Program provided biostatistical and informatics support for the study.

Additional study co-authors include Suzette Ma, Dr. Douglas Bell, Ron Hays, Fernando Javier Sanz Vidorreta, Sandra Binder, and Dr. Catherine Sarkisian of UCLA. 

Image caption: UCLA Health waiting room

Image source: UCLA Health