Recruiting patients for a clinical trial is never an easy task. Many have struggled with the process of reaching enrollment goals and must then deal with the effects on timeline and budget. When you look at it from a bird’s eye view, patient recruitment is a number’s game. You are playing the best odds of reaching the most people who would make a good fit for your trial. The more “right” people you reach, the more successful your enrollment phase will be.
Having a strong recruitment strategy in place is key to boosting patient enrollment. Putting in the initial research (and being thorough) to find out who your ideal potential participants are will maximize your efforts. Let’s take a look at some ways to get the most out of your clinical trial patient recruitment efforts:
Search Engine Marketing
As we’ve previously discussed, Google is a great place to reach proactive patients who are seeking knowledge and ready to take their health into their own hands. You need to get your clinical trial in front of these users because they are in control of their decisions and they know what they want. Your job is to show how your trial can provide that. By carrying out a strategic Google AdWords campaign with the right keywords, you can more accurately target the exact users that you want. This will not only boost patient enrollment and retention but will be more cost effective than broad tactics such as print and TV. You can never assume that people dealing with conditions are going to know that clinical trials are going on. You will reach people by using keywords related to the condition itself and its treatment – not clinical trials.
Social Media Marketing
There’s no denying the power that social media can wield in bringing awareness to your clinical trial. Facebook alone has over 2 billion active users each month. Many, if not most, of the potential patients that you are trying to reach will have a profile on this platform. With the creation of specialized Facebook groups, those with conditions are becoming increasingly comfortable with turning to social media to find communities and treatments. Your business page in itself allows users to get more familiar and build trust in you and the trial. Create a mix of content that is educational, insightful, engaging, and enjoyable. Additionally, running ad campaigns on Facebook will help you target users based on age, location, gender, and race; and help reach those who may otherwise not know about your clinical trial.
Casting a Wide Net
Your goal is to set yourself up for success by reaching the largest possible pool of patients right off the top. Therefore, you need to take care to ensure that your search as diverse. Clinical trials have historically struggled to include people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in their research. Unique obstacles for participation need to be carefully considered for these particular populations. Such barriers may include language restrictions, cost, level of invasiveness of the procedure, lack of ethnic or cultural representation, or a possible mistrust of medical establishments. If these patients would be ideal trial participants, do what you can to accommodate them and their study partners.
In your patient recruitment efforts, don’t forget the importance of following up. You jumped what is arguably the biggest hurdle – getting people to notice you in the first place. Now you want to keep them interested. Prompt contact from the clinical trial site for initial evaluation and possible enrollment is crucial.
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