Over 15 million Australians own a smartphone and three out of five people (58%) will sometimes or always look up information about health conditions on the internet to avoid going to see a health professional—with this number increasing to almost four in five people (79%) in the younger age category of 18-34 year olds. With these statistics in mind, it makes sense to have a solid digital presence for your clinical trials.
Digital patient recruitment
It is not always easy to find suitable candidates for clinical trials. In recent years, the number of trials with complex inclusion and exclusion criteria has increased, narrow patient populations are also increasing and sponsors are requesting data be made available earlier. Digital recruitment methods have been a welcome response to these challenges Traditionally, paper advertising was used — using the daily papers, student newspapers or in the form of leaflets delivered around the local area.
Technology has changed this. The process has become digitalised. There are dedicated websites that recruit, process, advise, inform and collate. Where you might have spent $5,000 on one half-page ad in a Saturday paper, you now can run an online campaign for 4-6 weeks. Importantly during this time your audience will probably see your ads more than once which increases brand recognition and their likelihood of taking action.
Information about the trial is put on a dedicated web page. Using Google ads, SEO and online advertising, potential candidates are targeted and directed to the page. Potential candidates then register their interest to receive the information about the trial. The value in this process is two-fold, firstly, the patient is able to receive information in real time and does not need to call a clinic during business hours when it may be inconvenient. Secondly, this reduces the number of calls to the clinic allowing the research staff to focus on trial specific tasks and not be burdened by high volumes of calls that may not translate to a screening appointment.
With digital recruitment a potential candidate can learn about the study before they apply to participate. By going through the patient information, reading, learning and taking part in the online pre-screening survey, they, and you, can tell if they are potentially the right candidate for the trial.
An online questionnaire can include questions on medical history as well as practical information, such as where the candidate is located, are they available and are they willing to try out certain medications or go through certain procedures.
General questions can include:
- How close are you from the research facility?
- Are you available to attend all the scheduled visits?
- Have you got any planned surgery coming up?
Patient experience begins before the first visit
Your website is going to be your first foray into working digitally with potential trial candidates and therefore must be informative, inviting and clearly outline what action you would like the browser to take. It does not stop there. Having a short registration form is crucial in successfully converting someone from glancing at your webpage to providing their contact details for you to follow up. Think of how many site you typically browse and then how many you actually subscribe to and why.
With contact information you will be able to send out automated and personalised emails, text messages, videos. Remember you have received all the contact details in real-time without having made a phone call. For those participants on study, you can implement pre-recorded reminders of appointments or perhaps, when to take the next medication dose or complete the study diary.
At each communication point, your potential candidate will be evaluating their experience, no one likes to be kept waiting, and everyone is busy these days, so that’s no excuse. With the right digital processes, you can increase the patient experience from the first click.
With technology you can ask candidates to complete trial questionnaires online. It can be on PC, phone or tablet. Candidates are asked to complete surveys or answer questions at the end of a trial. Now, they can do this on any mobile device, and from anywhere. Technology has enabled us to do everything quickly, efficiently and from any place.
Almost everyone has a smart phone today. Make use of yours and let patients make use of theirs. The benefits are realised for the clinic staff who potentially don’t have to schedule another visit, and the patient who can save themselves a trip. The data can be automatically uploaded to the researcher’s system, eliminating the need for data entry.
We have seen advancements of technology in all aspects of clinical research and it is no longer an option to leave out digital processes as part of your clinical trial recruitment campaign and trial management. Don’t know where to start? Ask for a free assessment from The Clinical Trial Group today. We have the tools and experience to assist you in boosting trial recruitment and business process efficiency.