There is a major disconnect between the number of Americans who say they would participate in a clinical trial and those who actually follow through on that premise. In a June 2013 poll on clinical research, Zogby Analytics and Research!America found that over two-thirds (72%) of the respondents would be likely to participate in a clinical trial that their doctor recommended. Eighty percent have heard of clinical trials, but only 22% say a medical professional has ever talked to them about participating in some type of medical research.
This lack of support by the medical community may be due to time constraints or limited knowledge about available studies, but it does have a negative impact on the industry’s ability to seek out and enroll qualified participants. One way to overcome this obstacle is to go straight to the targeted patient base. Since everyone from Gen Z to Baby Boomers is online now, the benefits for CRO's and sponsors using eRecruitment has increased substantially.
There are two factors which impact the effectiveness and success of a digital patient recruitment strategy - the methods used and the expertise of the digital advertising vendor implementing the plan. There are a number of strategies that can be leveraged as part of an eRecruitment strategy to help clinical trial marketers find their ideal patients. These include such opportunities as search engine marketing (SEM or PPC), search engine optimization (SEO), display advertising, contextual awareness, social media marketing, health network participation, and video
Choosing a Digital Vendor to Implement an eRecruitment Strategy
Clinical trial marketers can break away from their traditional recruitment mechanisms by working with an digital advertising vendor that is familiar with the latest in digital patient enrollment. It is best to look for a digital patient recruitment partner that has experience in both clinical trial marketing and online marketing. Most clinical trials have very targeted fields when it comes to inclusion criteria, like age demographics or speicific medical conditions. It takes a special kind of expertise to fully grasp the unique requirements of targeting and communicating to potential trial participants online, and then draw them into the study. A general SEO or PPC campaign just won’t work, and needs to be replaced with one that is laser-focused on the appropriate audience and optimized to qualify candidates using the latest digital survey tools.
Because the online world is so diverse, the vendor also needs to have a wide breadth of capabilities. It can be difficult to target precisely where a particular patient population is going to be online at any one given time. It is necessary to use multiple streams of communication and diverse contact strategies to find the preferred audience and draw them into the website. When appropriate, geographic targeting should be used to zero in on prospects within a narrowly defined region. The vendor should also be capable of implementing a tracking program which allows for further program tweaking and optimization that can drive down the cost per enrolled patient.
Relying on the medical community or using traditional advertising methods is no longer effective in finding well-qualified clinical trial participants. Implementing a well thought-out and precisely tracked eRecruitment strategy can lead to more qualified applicants at a lower cost of acquisition.