Accelerating to the Finish Line

Patient recruitment - social media and texting

Accelerating to the Finish Line

With summer behind us, many of our clients are focused on year-end milestones. Maybe it’s first patient randomized in a new study or meeting the study enrollment goal or a target number of sites activated. If you’ve been reading our Summer Roadblock Blog series, you may have already mapped out your strategy to rev up recruitment this fall.

Check the Rear View Mirror

Before we shift gears with tactics to accelerate patient recruitment, let’s take a look at some of the strategies from earlier blog posts in the series and make sure we’re on the right path:

  • To forecast enrollment, you have assessed site activity and identified the reasons why sites are (and are not) enrolling patients. For more on this topic check out Does Your Strategy Need Re-Routing?  4 Questions to Ask.
  • After understanding where your recruitment efforts might have the biggest impact, you have revisited your tactics – whether it’s advertising, patient communities, online media – and formed a plan for this fall, knowing it’s a peak time for patient recruitment as described in Revving Up for Fall.

Now you’re ready to move full speed ahead with recruitment tactics. Let’s look at how social media and text messaging programs can help your traditional recruitment campaign turn the corner.

Driving Traffic with Social Media

Among 1,165 trial volunteers surveyed, almost two-thirds reported that information found online influenced their decision to join a clinical trial . If your recruitment campaign includes advertising, digital and social media should be a part of it.1 Sponsors are increasingly turning to platforms like Facebook and Twitter as a way to target potential patients, especially because of the flexibility they offer.  You’ll want to re-visit your metrics and evaluate the performance of your campaign. If one platform is not performing, re-focus your time and budget on those that are.

A central social media campaign may not be the right fit for your study. You may need to look at alternate routes.  Remember that social media can also be tapped through your study sites.  With an estimated 2.3 billion social media users now online across the globe2, it is likely that your study sites have either a Facebook or a Twitter account of their own. By working together with your study sites, you can post trial messaging to their social media platforms, reaching the target population for your trial. To help pave the way for sites, provide them suitable versions of IRB-approved print and online ads so they can post them to their social media pages. TV spots developed for your study can also be uploaded to their pages and site websites.

Deviate from the Main Road

If your traditional advertising campaign has hit a dead end, you may want to ramp up text messaging. There are many statistics  about the rise and use of the smartphone – the number of people that keep their smartphone within reach, how quickly a text message is read (in minutes of delivery), and how likely the text recipient is to take action. We’ve learned that the rate of referrals to sites doubled after adding text messaging to a print, TV and radio campaign for a trial.3

This statistic is not replicated for every study, and a text message campaign is not the solution for every recruitment roadblock. But for the right study design and patient population, text messaging may help speed up your recruitment response.  How does it work? The user texts a keyword to a number provided, electing to receive the text screener. This prompts a series of study-specific pre-screening questions. The study candidate is then directed to the study call center or to the site for further screening. By using their own smartphone, text response lends to discretion, convenience, and quick action, not to mention, a more patient-centric approach.

Want to learn more about UBC’s approach to social media for clinical trials? Check out Is Your Trial Social?

Click here for more information about UBC’s Patient & Physician Recruitment & Retention services, or contact us.

Roadmap to Recruitment

1“Using Social Media in Clinical Trial Recruitment,” FDA News 2015
2Source: StatCounter, Q1 2016.
3Source: Internal UBC patient recruitment case study, 2016