The Next Generation of Study Websites

by Melynda Geurts

In efforts to push the envelope further with study websites, some of the most advanced and successful recruitment strategies utilize Custom Engagement Centers (or Trial Centers). These are custom-built study-specific websites that encourage certain types of engagement by the visitor in order to gather data. These data help to determine the level of interest the visitor may have in a trial, and influence the content displayed for that particular individual.

The results from this tactic continue to impress. They have been around 20% more efficient than search engine marketing alone.

If you have not considered some type of study website as part of your recruitment strategy, you’re truly missing out. Don’t believe me? Here’s a brief case study.
Case Study

Objective: Educate and engage users about medical device therapy for medication-resistant Parkinson’s, and drive quality leads for the brand.

Strategy: Remedy Health Media collaborated with the brand and agreed to use all branded content and remove ad units from the Custom Engagement Center in order to drive the most action to the form.

9 in 10 visitors to the custom center have been diagnosed with the condition

Visitors to the custom center are 2.5x more likely to schedule an appointment with a movement disorder specialist

4 in 5 visitors are likely to speak to their doctor about condition therapy within the next 3 months

91% believe it is important to continue receiving information about condition therapy (discards the argument that patients don’t want to receive more information)

12-month number of guaranteed referrals was met in 9 months

Takeaway: Custom Engagement Centers are able to attract not only real, but truly engaged patients and caregivers who are interested in more information and more likely to take the next step.


How do they work?

In order for the results from a Custom Engagement Center to impress, the first component must be to leverage long-tail search to attract real patients and caregivers to the site.

An individual searching general terms such as ‘shingles’ typically does not constitute a quality referral. These could be individuals doing research for a paper, looking for general knowledge, or checking in on the news. They may also be self-diagnosing, or looking for general information that could be found on WebMD.

Now, compare that to an individual who is searching a more specific phrase such as ‘shingles migraine connection.’ This individual is much more likely to be seeking condition management tips, patient support networks, or expert treatment guidance. This is the first indication of a real, engaged patient or caregiver, and someone whom we would want to send to the Custom Engagement Center.

Using search engine marketing, the Custom Engagement Centers aim to be one of the first results, shown at the top of the page, when a long-tail search is ran. This increases the probability that these real patients and caregivers will end up on the Engagement Center, and take the next step of engaging once they arrive.

Using the long-tail search strategy, our partner Remedy Health Media is able to attract over 30 million new and potentially interested visitors each month.

Once they draw in this potentially interested audience, the next step is to encourage interaction on the site, which helps to further vet the individual and gather more information.


Types of desired engagement:

  • Chat: if a visitor is willing to chat online about the study, there is a good chance he or she meets the pre-screening criteria or cares for someone who does
  • Submit a Form: a form is a great way to capture more information about the visitor
  • Make a phone call: a phone call for more information

For example, Cancer Treatment Centers of America utilize a series of forms on the main pages of their website. These forms inquire about the visitor’s condition, stage, type of insurance, and whether he is seeking care for himself or a loved one. When a visitor submits this form, he will be sent to a page specific to that condition and given a specific phone number to call, or specialist to speak with through a chat window.


If this sounds interesting, grab your copy of my recent ebook, titled Your Patients Are Here. You’ll learn all about where to recruit and how to retain the most active and engaged patients for your study.

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