Here at PatientWise, we like to think outside the box when it comes to patient recruitment. Every clinical trial we are involved with has its own unique challenges and criteria. Therefore, each trial demands unique and thoughtful tactics to attract and retain patients. Every patient is on their own healthcare journey, and they require multiple interactions and touchpoints from your site at each stage to get them to trust, engage and enroll in your clinical trials. That’s why the recruitment tactics we recommend may vary and depend on the patient profile you are trying to reach. While many sites may think that reaching the largest population possible is the best route to take, this can lead to the generation of unqualified patients and unnecessary administrative work for your staff. That is why thinking in the mind of your patient and determining where they are actively seeking out information may be a good approach to start your recruiting efforts.
Below is an infographic about how we reach patients at different points on their journey, and how we select the most appropriate media tactics for our recruitment campaigns:
From an overall marketing strategy perspective, we always recommend having a diverse, multi-pronged approach that touches each part of the patient journey. As shown in the infographic, there are three main points of contact that we can reach patients on: Not Seeking, Passively Seeking, and Actively Seeking. For now, we are going to focus on some unique media tactics that often get overlooked in clinical trial patient recruitment campaigns that lie within the “Passively Seeking” and the “Actively Seeking” stages, because these are the stages where most patient recruitment tactics have the most success.
“Passively Seeking” Patients
In this digital age, patient recruitment campaigns are no stranger to social media. Social media is great for capturing a moderately targeted audience while they are passively online. The intent of our online behavior in the last few years has switched from “active intent” to “passively scrolling”. Just think about all the times you hop onto your phone to take a “quick break” at work to scroll through your social media feeds. Approximately 33% of online usage is spent on social media platforms in the US – that is just over 2 hours a day. By engaging with those who are not actively seeking out information about your study condition, but have expressed interest, either through related searches, content watched or interacted with or websites visited, you can greatly increase the chances of those patients being qualified and interested in participating.
While most of us are aware of the power social media has on patient recruitment, there are many ways that social media is under-utilized in patient recruitment. As each platform advances and updates its services for paid social, it is important that we take advantage of these benefits to lower the barrier of entry for our patients. One recent change to Facebook and Instagram paid social advertising is the “Facebook Experience” – which allows for a full-screen landing page to load without ever needing to leave the app. Finding details about your studies, form fills to capture contact information, and your site’s contact info has never been easier for patients.
“Actively Seeking” Patients
One under-utilized media tactic for patient recruitment that targets “Actively Seeking” patients is Paid Search ads. These are the advertisements that are the most effective in terms of showing up at the precise moment patients are ready to take action. As patients are actively seeking care for your study condition, it is critical that we are able to provide the information they are seeking at that exact moment. Google Ads and search paid ads are targeted not only through geographic, demographic, and behavioral interests, but also through real-time keyword targeting.
Paid Search ads are not seen as frequently as they should be in patient recruitment, but they have been shown to produce the highest ROI when it comes to external advertising tactics. While the reach is limited, especially compared to TV advertising, there are fewer dollars wasted on referrals that are unqualified or uninterested in participating. Not only does this save money on advertisements, but it will also save time for the research coordinators.
Right Person, Right Content, Right Time
In summary, when it comes to finding the right patient for a clinical trial, it may feel a little bit like stumbling around in the dark. You know they are out there but cannot quite put your finger on it. Integrating more targeted media tactics that are outside of what you are comfortable doing can allow you to reach more patients throughout their healthcare journey, while also keeping them more engaged and creating greater retention among your patient population.