Revving Up For Fall
Revving Up For Fall
Our Roadmap to Recruitment series will help you navigate the patient recruitment roadblocks often found during the summer months. Click the links at the end of the post to follow the rest of the series.
When the August heat has you running for the pool, and it seems like the whole world is on vacation, it can be hard to think ahead to fall. However, when it comes to patient recruitment for clinical research, this is a very important time.
If you read our previous posts you are prepared – you have some roadblocks in your rearview mirror. You have taken a good look at your sites to understand the enrollment challenges, reviewed enrollment data for trends in disqualification, and assessed your recruitment tactics for your best return on investment.
September and October are historically some of the best times for clinical trial recruitment, so it’s time to prepare to take advantage of the coming months.
Prepare the Sites
While August may be the time when most people are out of the office, you still need to keep your communications active. Now is the time to prepare sites for an increase in activity after Labor Day.
Review overall site activity and tier sites based on their screening activity, response to communications and follow up on referrals. Some sites may be trying hard, but just don’t have the patients. These sites should be top priority for your recruitment support come fall. Other ideas to keep all your sites focused include:
- Have sites look through their databases and patient charts again. This will help them identify patients who can be scheduled during the slow period, which will help to jump start activity.
- Hold a site teleconference in August. This is a motivational call – to encourage enrollment momentum, share best practices and focus sites on year-end goals.
- Sustain activities to build the referral base for sites. Try to bring in referrals when sites are back to full staff so no time is lost.
- You may find, depending on the study and population, there are opportunities for local outreach and events in August.
Give Your Messaging a Tune Up
Use the summer to review which tactics have been most successful. Where are the highest numbers of calls coming from and which calls are converting to referrals and randomizations? While cost is a strong driver, attracting patients that are a good fit for your study is essential to meeting goals. It may be time to update materials or tweak an ad. Think about:
- Is there better messaging that can be used?
- Should the images be refreshed?
- Can I add information that will help minimize any key screen fail reasons?
Do this now while you have time for creative development and approvals so you are ready to go in September.
Map Out Your Outreach
Take a big picture look at the coming months and lay out a plan for placing advertising and allocating your budget. Prepare ad plans two weeks in advance so referrals start coming to your sites right after the United States holiday, Labor Day.
Some schools start in early to mid-August, so you may even run targeted advertising during the last week in August if your target audience includes parents with school age children.
Remember, 2016 offers a unique challenge for advertising due to the U.S. Presidential election. This will increase media rates in heavily contested markets, so be aware of what is happening in key states. You may have to adjust media buys depending on availability and cost.
Don’t Coast – Keep Your Foot on the Gas
Just because it is the dog days of summer, don’t let enrollment outreach lag. You can maintain your enrollment momentum by utilizing less seasonal tactics:
- Look at any current online activities and consider boosting the budget. The internet never takes a vacation.
- Think about direct mail outreach that can land in people’s mailboxes in mid to late August. People will be ready to call in as the summer ends.
- Look at new online resources that can reach out to targeted audiences. People who have signed up for study updates will keep reviewing these communications.
If needed, focus activities geographically where you know sites are still active. Don’t let a site sit around too long with no one to screen!
Prepare For Rough Roads
Finally, even the best planned trip can run into traffic so be prepared for issues and be flexible:
- Watch advertising results closely and adjust placements that are not producing referrals. You cannot let fall go by with poorly performing media outlets.
- Are sites slow to get moving after summer? Set up motivation calls or site visits as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it is too late and the holidays roll around.
- Assess online or direct mail activities that were implemented in the summer. If they were effective, keep them going! A good mix of outreach allows you to be nimble and manage tactics for the best results.
With the right tactics and proper planning and site support, September and October can be the best recruitment months of your study.
If you missed the earlier posts in our Roadmap to Recruitment Summer Blog Series, catch up here.