Recruiting patients for a clinical trial is always a marketer’s first priority. As more and more patients are turning to the Internet for information about their health, the same is true about patients looking to participate in a clinical trial.
While resources like the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s directory of clinical trials is a valuable resource in locating clinical trials, it is often difficult for patients to find user-friendly, targeted answers to their questions about a particular trial.
Improving your clinical trial’s digital presence can be a powerful tool for marketers who want to attract more patients to a trial and retain them. Here are three ways marketers can raise their digital profile.
1. Create a web site specifically for your trial.
While nearly all of the trials listed in the U.S. National Institutes of Health directory provide contact information, such as phone numbers and emails, many patients prefer to find answers on the web before contacting a person directly about participation. They may not be sold yet on participating in a trial, and may have very little knowledge about what is entailed. A clinical trial’s website can provide information that patients have come to expect before making the decision of whether they will participate in the study. The information included in the U.S. National Institutes of Health directory, while useful, is very technical in nature and may actually alienate patients instead of encouraging their participation.
2. Simplify navigation and reduce medical jargon.
If a patient can’t find the information they need to make a decision about whether to participate, a website is useless. Marketers should work closely with their web designers to make sure that the most critical information, such as frequently asked questions, information about the duration of the study, what is required, and the risks and benefits, is readily available in a format that is easily navigable. For example, Amgen provides easy-to-find and understand frequently asked questions on their website, as does Center Watch. In addition, marketers should be sure to not over use technical jargon that the average participant is unlikely to understand. This can have the effect of alienating participants instead of enticing them to participate.
3. Go mobile.
Having a stellar website is just the first step in raising your digital profile. Many users are now experiencing the web through their mobile devices. Thus, it is critical that your website is optimized for mobile users as well as desktop users.
In addition, several clinical trials have had success developing mobile apps that engage patients through every phase of the trial. Some apps have included such novel features as medication reminders and two-way communication between researchers and patients.
4. Online Promotion
Once you have your website and mobile app, you still need to drive traffic to your website and phone calls to fill the seats in your clinical trial. Driving awareness about your clinical trial can be difficult if patients aren't specifically looking for a trial to participate in (which most are not). Generating awareness about your trial can be done efficiently by creating online promotional campaigns utilizing Google, Yahoo, MSN, Bing and even Facebook. Identify the keywords (search terms) that patients may be using when conducting online searches. These keywords will fall in one of four categories: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments and Resources. Targeting promotions that follow the four phases of the patient search process will help in creating awareness for your trial, increasing traffic to your website, and ultimately filling the seats in your trial.
Raising your digital profile can be a great way to not only attract more patients to your trial, but to keep them engaged until the end of the trial. As patients’ expectations and appetite for more information grows, the necessity of a strong digital presence becomes even more critical for clinical trial marketers.