3 Patient Recruitment Tools to Try

by Melynda Geurts
patient recruitment tools

With the globalization of clinical trials rapidly expanding, the industry’s practices are shifting. Despite the many tools and techniques available, patient recruitment around the globe continues to cause expensive delays in the majority of clinical trials.

Here are 3 new-age tools for patient recruitment and ideas on how to include them into your strategy:

1. Social Media

Considered the modern day “word-of-mouth,” social media presents a unique opportunity to spread the word in a quick and cost-effective manner. Platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and online social communities present great opportunities for identifying individuals who are seeking options or for others to share their experiences. Social media also allows for geo-targeted campaigns to focus your efforts only on logistically sound targets.

With social media comes a number of legal questions as the industry works to define the regulations around this medium. Always be sure to speak with your recruitment provider to understand the boundaries of this medium.

2. Study Website

Study websites are quickly becoming a preferred component of clinical trials across the globe. These websites present an unmatched opportunity to provide relevant information to a highly engaged population. Individuals will come to your study website for the sole purpose of learning about your trial for themselves or a loved one. This population is extremely engaged and motivated. When designing your website, be sure to capitalize on this engagement using various calls-to-action. This will move the individual further down the pipeline. For tips, check out our recent blog post on the secret to a successful study website.

A study website allows you to provide more information than most other recruitment options. Websites provide more landscape for text, and more options for engagement. They also allow you to link to other credible or supporting organizations’ websites. Oftentimes study websites will include an online pre-screener. This allows for easy access and an immediate response for the participant.

If a study website is something you’re interested in, we strongly recommend using pay-per-click advertising and search-engine optimization (SEO) to market your website and drive traffic to it. Typically, potential patients are not going to enter your website URL to directly access the site – you need to real them in.

Implementation Considerations

Study websites are no light investment. Before pursuing a website there a certain items to consider.

– Length of enrollment and regulatory approval timelines. Websites typically take 8-10 weeks to develop.  Regulatory approval can take from 2 days up to 3 months depending on the use of central IRBs, local IRBs and/or ethics committees. Therefore, it could take a minimum of 3 months to launch a website. If your study has a 6 month enrollment timeline and involves a large percentage of sites that use local IRBs and/or involves multiple countries, you’ll want to evaluate the impact of instituting a website.

– Countries involved. Most recruitment strategies are accepted from a regulatory perspective worldwide, but cultural acceptance varies. Central and Western Europe are typically more receptive to study websites, while Eastern Europe and the Baltic Region are not as receptive. This is an important consideration when evaluating the use of a study website. Culturally, if the use of a website is not an accepted practice within a particular country, then one would not invest the time or money in developing and seeking approval of this strategy.

*Recently, DAC signed an exclusive partnership with Remedy Health Media. This partnership provides our clients with unmatched access to the most engaged online communities. To learn more about the opportunities available to you, you can read the press release or listen to our podcast interview with Dennis Upah, Executive Vice President at Remedy.

3. Pharmacy Outreach

This is a strategy that has grown in popularity over the last couple of years due to the ability of being highly “prescriptive” in identifying potential study participants as it correlates to inclusion and exclusion study criteria as well as targeted geographies. Pharmacy outreach is one of the most targeted direct-to-patient outreach approaches you can consider in supporting your recruitment program, which will positively impact your overall retention.

Due to the targeted nature of this strategy, response and referral rates typically are 28% and 13% higher than traditional outreach (i.e., direct mail campaigns), respectively.


What others have you found to be successful?

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