While we are undeniably living in the era of the e-patient, many clinical trial managers remain committed to traditional recruiting methods. Unfortunately, this antiquated approach is not helping struggling enrollment numbers. So what can you do to transform this new breed of healthcare consumer into clinical trial participants? Let’s take a closer look at five things you need to know when recruiting today’s e-patients.
1. Social Media Rules
According to the Society for Participatory Medicine, e-patients are “equipped, enabled, empowered and engaged in their health and health care decisions.” While social media is largely uncharted territory when it comes to clinical trial recruitment, it has massive potential. And contrary to popular misconception, there are no regulations governing whether social media can be used in clinical trial recruitment.
Recruiters can further leverage the power of social media by identifying the social media sites and forums populated by their target demographic and focusing efforts toward reaching them.
2. Curate Your Content
Effective social media use is not simply a matter of arbitrarily posting and tweeting. Whether you’re educating patients about the benefits of clinical trials or communicating the importance of volunteering, each post and response should be relevant, consistent, lightening fast, and attentive to the needs of the community.
Rather than thinking in terms of recruiting patients, focus your efforts on building credibility.
And remember: e-patients respond to authenticity -- not a hard sell -- so be sure to adopt “patient speak,” instead of obtuse medical jargon.
3. Make It Mobile
E-consumers aren’t just familiar with their healthcare information, they’re also used to accessing it anywhere at any time. Not only are mobile devices omnipresent, but healthcare is the most quickly growing content for mobile users. In other words, if your recruitment efforts don’t factor in mobile apps and responsive design in general, you risk alienating a major segment of the population.
4. But Don’t Forget About Physicians
While peer reviews may be more important than ever, physicians can still play a critical role in the recruitment process. This may not happen in the conventional office setting, however. Instead, physicians should be encouraged to interact with community members online in order to raise awareness. If possible, organize a chat session or discussion group between physicians, recruiters and patients to further facilitate information exchange.
5. The Multi-Modal Approach
Contemporary consumers retrieve information from a wide variety of sources. The same applies to e-patients. This is why it’s essential to use multiple modes of communication both to reach and reinforce your constituents.
But the most innovative e-recruitment methods do even more: immediate, interactive features -- such as return call functionality and online screening tools -- can help seamlessly move patients through the recruitment funnel.
Because the digital age has completely transformed how patients access and engage with their healthcare information, traditional approaches are now woefully outdated. In order to bolster clinical trial enrollment, recruitment strategies must evolve in keen alignment with changing patient attitudes. Are your methods up to the challenge?