October 20th, 2015

Digital Patient Recruitment Tips the Scales for Clinical Trials

In January 2015 a Forbes Pharma and Healthcare contributor posted an article asking the burning question, “How Can We Encourage Participation in Clinical Trials?” In it, author Judy Stone sited many of the statistics which have become all too familiar to those involved in clinical trial marketing today – lack of physician support, astonishingly low response rates, and losses of millions of dollars by trial sponsors.

A June 2013 poll by Zogby Analytics found that fewer than 10% of Americans participate in clinical trials, with lack of information listed as the primary reason by over half of the respondents. With the scales tipped to such a seemingly negative extreme against clinical trials, is there anything that can rebalance the equation? A nugget of hope is seen in the same survey, which also found that over half of the respondents learn about clinical trials through online or internet resources. This should provide great encouragement to those thinking about adding eRecruitment and digital patient enrollment to their patient recruitment arsenal.

Digital patient recruitment is the latest and most powerful tool available to clinical trial marketers. It is performing so well that it has already surpassed traditional media channels in attracting qualified trial participants. Since so many patients and prospective trial participants are already online researching medical information, it only makes sense to use eRecruitment to draw their attention to a specific study.

Keywords searched or database information can help marketers more precisely target their online messages to exact demographic members. Sponsors looking to increase digital patient enrollment for studies on emphysema, Alzheimer’s, sciatica, venous ulcers, asthma, and eczema could do particularly well by tapping into an already existing base population. In fact, it is easier than ever to pinpoint messages down to geographic areas, age groups, and medical interest cohorts. Even the previously-elusive older demographic is more likely to be online now searching for information about their medical conditions. This can be particularly helpful for trials looking for participants with renal disease or joint problems.

Weighing the Benefits of Digital Patient Recruitment

The internet has the capability of moving quickly and offering several testing methods at once. Instead of starting at the beginning and slowly eliminating underperforming channels, it can be quick and easy to set up an online system for digital patient enrollment. Most importantly, more refined techniques allow for better tracking and optimization to further tweak the approach and increase response rates.

Poorly developed clinical trial marketing campaigns can lead to many problems for trial sponsors. A trial may not get off the ground at all if a sufficient number of participants cannot be found, or there could be expensive delays in bringing a promising new medication or piece of medical equipment to the market. The longer it takes to get the product approved for sale, the longer it will take to reach maximum sales levels which can provide a positive return on the investment in research and development.

The combined benefits of increased inquiries and enrollment, improved tracking, and lowered costs all tip the scales in favor of digital patient recruitment for clinical trials.