July 30th, 2014

3 Ways to Keep Patients Engaged During Long-term Clinical Trials

The process of bringing a drug to market can be a very long journey. According to the American Cancer Society, it takes about eight years on average for a cancer drug to make the journey from clinical trials to FDA approval.Clinical Trial Marketing, Patient Recruitment, Patient Engagment

Keeping patients engaged during this long process is an ongoing challenge for clinical trial marketers. While patients may be hopeful and enthusiastic at the beginning of a trial, interest can wane as months and years pass.

Every clinical marketer knows how valuable every patient is to a clinical trial. Attracting patients is a huge challenge, so it is critical not to lose participants through disinterest or isolation. Fortunately, the digital age provides marketers with more tools than ever to keep patients engaged during a long-term clinical trial, and they should be utilized whenever possible.

1. Website

The key to keeping patients engaged during a long-term study is to provide them with information that is relevant to them. Just as marketers use physician and hospital websites to retain patients between visits, clinical marketers should use this valuable resource to provide participants with information that is centered on them.

Information on the website should be focused on educating participants. Clinical trials can be highly technical in nature, and often patients are confronted with information that is not easily digestible by a layman. The National Institutes of Health and the Moffitt Cancer Center both have excellent examples of websites geared toward participants of clinical trials that features information that is readily understandable by anyone.

Patient-centric content may include:

  • Frequently asked questions
  • Personal stories
  • Questions to ask doctors
  • Basic information about clinical trials in general
  • Benefits statement

2. Multi-media Content

Photographs and videos can be powerful story tellers, and are an integral component of patient engagement. Multi-media content can be delivered through email, social networks, YouTube, and your clinical trial website.

Personal stories are most effective and relatable through video. Patients will be able to relate to other participants who have successfully participated in a clinical trial. Video can be one of the most effective ways to convey benefits to participants and to answer frequently asked questions.

3. Group Communications

Including group communications in your social media strategy can help patients forge relationships with other participants. It is also an excellent way to keep patients informed about developments in the study and to provide them with useful information during the trial.

Groups on social media can usually be set to “private” or “public.” Depending on your goals, either setting can be beneficial. A private group cannot be seen by others who are not in the group and will not show up through a related search term. A public group, however, can be found by people not already in the group, which could be a useful tool for identifying future participants.

Utilizing these three digital resources gives marketers additional tools to retain patients during long-term clinical trials. Remembering to keep content patient-centric will provide marketers with the best engagement results.