In an age that has seen computers take a central role in nearly every aspect of “normal life,” it is not at all surprising to see experts in the medical field work to adapt clinical trial recruitment strategies to use technology to their advantage. Indeed, relying solely on traditional marketing methods is likely a recipe for losing touch with today’s younger generations—who are, of course, tomorrow’s older generations and critically important for clinical research in the future. Navigating clinical research patient recruitment during the current fast-paced transitional period requires a balanced mindset and a reliance on recent experimentation that shows what works and what doesn’t.
Providing information online is certainly one of the clinical trial recruitment strategies that DOES work. A postcard or other mailer can only provide a basic amount of clinical trial information without becoming too heavy to mail affordably or discouraging the potential volunteer by asking him to pore over tiny print. An online format, most commonly a URL dedicated to an individual trial, can educate the potential volunteer with these advantages:
- Organizational power, making it easy for the visitor to find specific answers to his questions without reading through all the available information
- User-friendly appearance, utilizing graphics, readable font size, and even informational videos to break up hard-to-read text
- Live interactive features such as live chat/messaging with an agent
Many potential trial volunteers are wary about sending a response containing sensitive personal information through the mail. Even in a sealed envelope, this information can be lost along the way or deliberately stolen by criminals, exposing the victim to identity theft. An online response option, centered on a personal URL, allows the volunteer to respond and send personal information safely and quickly instead.
The importance of protecting volunteers’ personal information during the response phase cannot be stressed enough. If your organization offers online response among its clinical trial recruitment strategies, it must assure potential volunteers that it is doing everything possible to secure the URL against hackers and use a web hosting service that takes every necessary precaution.
Less than Effective Clinical Trial Recruitment Strategies
There are several online practices that once appeared to hold promise as the keys to effective recruiting options in the digital age. Unfortunately, these have shown few positive results as direct marketing efforts, although they do have great value for general education of the public concerning clinical research.
Reaching out to people on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter has not materialized as an effective way to recruit volunteers for clinical trials. One of the major reasons behind this fact is the high level of regulation imposed on the promotion of “investigational” medical products. All Facebook posts, Tweets, and other social media messages are subject to the same HIPAA rules as other recruitment materials, and getting those messages approved by an IRB usually proves to be more trouble than the few responses are worth.
While reaching a very large population via email seems like a great recruitment strategy, email blasts are extremely likely to end up in the recipients’ spam/junk mail folders instead of their inboxes, never to be seen. An email contact list of people who actively subscribe to your messages is valuable for maintaining contact with past volunteers, but email blasts are not one of the stronger online clinical trial recruitment strategies.
One of the online strategies that has yielded the most promising results is putting Google AdWords to work for clinical research patient recruitment. Marketing experts of all kinds have made this powerful tool a central element of their campaigns, and clinical research marketers can do the same. It takes an expert to set up an effective AdWords campaign, calibrate its keyword focus, adjust settings in order to reach the most valuable contacts, and avoid the numerous pitfalls that beginners fall prey to, but the payoff is definitely worth the effort.
AdWords, unlike “push” marketing strategies, waits for individuals to show an interest in a trial’s indication before placing a message in front of them. This type of “pull” marketing is much more focused, cost-effective, and affordable overall. Contact Clinical List America by email or phone to learn more about how AdWords can move your clinical trial recruitment strategies online—the right way.