Patient recruitment and retention are two critical factors in today's clinical trials. Successful communication that results in a qualified pool of applicants, along with a high rate of participant retention, can lead to useful trial results which can propel a product or prescription medication to the top of the industry. Poorly implemented marketing and recruitment plans, however, can lead to low applicant pools, trial delays, and cost over-runs. To support clinical trial marketers, here are four challenges of clinical trial recruitment and how to overcome them:
- Traditional Advertising Isn’t Working: Your trial has spent a considerable amount of money on traditional advertising methods, but doesn’t seem to be getting a huge response from potential participants. You’re not alone in this dilemma because traditional channels aren’t working well for major advertisers either. Consumers are streaming television shows or watching them on DVR instead of watching them with advertisements. Magazine and newspaper circulations are down. Consumers, and potential trial participants, now have opportunities to gather information from a huge pool of communication sources. The trick is to be where they are, and to strike the right note in communicating with them. For most clinical trials today this will involve an in-depth online marketing strategy.
- Low Patient Interest: You’re not quite sure why, but patient interest in your trial has been very low. That’s because they don’t believe you, or don’t think the trial offers significant benefits to make their participation worthwhile. Communication efforts need to stress the benefits of what your device or medication can do if the trial is found to be a success. Outbound marketing efforts to a targeted demographic group, using online resources, will need to be increased. It will be necessary to incorporate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics into your online marketing to increase the likelihood of your trial being found by people who are searching for information on devices, diseases, or medications similar to yours.
- Need for More Information: Consumers everywhere are demanding more information for everything from the purchase of a smartphone to possible participation in a clinical trial. You may need to design a website specifically devoted to your clinical trial to provide a greater degree of knowledge. It should include strong benefit statements, FAQs, and a contact source to answer questions. Including surveys on the website will help further qualify interested applications before they take the next step of visiting one of the local trial sites.
- Lack of Communication: Attention spans seem to be getting shorter, so participants need to be reminded constantly of why they decided to get involved, particularly in the longer trials. Email marketing to remind participants of the benefits of the device or medication throughout the course of the trial can be of help, as well as a social media strategy that includes a group communication component so that members can turn to each other for support.
There is a lot riding on the success of today’s clinical trial recruitment and retention efforts. The results justify the time and personnel which may be needed to investigate and implement a truly functional online marketing program.