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What is wrong with your online clinical trial information?

Simon Klaasen
3979 (updated: 23-07-2020 13:29)
07-10-2016 13:19

You ran a very successful online advertisement campaign for your clinical trial and you can see that many people have visited your clinical trial page. Unfortunately, very few follow through on their initial interest. Does this sound familiar to you? Then there is definitely something wrong with your online clinical trial information.

At first glance, your advertisement campaign seems to be in line with all the information you provide on your clinical trial page. You have followed all the guidelines for publishing clinical trial information and everything seems to be clear. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the information is not compelling enough to motivate people to enroll.

The reason for this is quite simple; you did focus your audience’s attention on your trial but you did not answer the following five questions in this specific order. That is why they lost interest and did not enroll.

Remember; you only have 8 seconds to get it right! Do not rely on your audience to figure it out; take them by the hand and lead the way.

Question 1: What is in it for me?

This is often the most difficult question to answer, but at the same time the most important one and very often forgotten. Everyone needs a reason to do something; it may be an intrinsic or extrinsic motivator. But your hands are tied and your options are very limited. Even so, you need to make it clear why someone should participate in your study.

If you are lucky, you can offer a financial compensation for the patient’s efforts during the trial. Then again, usually financial compensation for phase 2 or 3 trials is not allowed. A bit less, but still good to mention is a reimbursement for expenses incurred. This seems obvious for you and me but for someone who has never participated in a clinical trial this is not so obvious.

As the new product is still in the clinical trial phase, you cannot make any promises regarding the efficacy. But you can say why the study is conducted e.g. “to test the efficacy of a new drug for….” This gives a clear statement that the drug is still in a trial phase, no promises are made but the potential participant now has an idea why it is important this drug is tested.

Depending on the type of trial, patients may join to help others, contribute to move science forward, receive the newest treatment, have additional care and attention from the trial team, and to a lesser extent to make extra money or receive free healthcare. Appeal to any of these motivators when answering the “What’s In It For Me” question. If you do not answer this question, 87% of your potential trial participants will not click the apply button as they do not know why they should.

Question 2: What is this study about?

This may well be the most obvious question. At the same time, with so much trial information available it seems superfluous to respond. Nevertheless, here is the thing; not all information is as clear and plain as you would like it to be.

So make an effort to translate the available information into something that is concise and makes it clear for the man/woman in the street what the trial is about, the benefits it hopes to provide and whom it concerns.

Question 3: What do I have to do?

This sounds like an obvious question too, and it is often left unanswered. If someone asks for your help, wouldn’t you want to know a bit more about how much time and effort you are expected to put in, the conditions under which you will need to perform and roughly, when and where things will take place?

People want to know how many times they will need to go to the hospital/research center, what type of assessments will be done and especially how much time they will need to spend on this trial. You do not need to drown your audience in information; a simple 4 to 6 points bulleted list with the most important information will do the trick.

Question 4: Can I participate?

Now here is an interesting question, because in a perfect world this one should already have been answered by the criteria for your recruitment campaign. If you have set-up your campaign correctly, you are already targeting and triggering the right people. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and we need to fix this little glitch.

Therefore, create a Top 3 of reasons for screening failure that can be checked “on paper” at the site and add this information to your advertisement. It will make life a lot easier for everyone involved. Your audience immediately knows whether they are eligible or not and site personnel can focus on the finer screening details.

Question 5: How can I apply?

If everything else goes as planned, then by now your audience is overflowing with anticipation and wants to jump on the bandwagon. You need to tell them how to apply in the quickest and clearest way possible.

Now you would expect that in this day and age of online communications, getting in touch is as simple as pushing a button. Nevertheless, in this neck of the woods, it often is not and here are some examples of what not to do.

  • A non-clickable email address, that forces your audience to retype the address in their email client if they want to reach out to you.
  • A telephone number that leads to a desk but there is not always someone available to pick up the phone and provide meaningful information about the trial or even accept an application.
  • A non-clickable link that leads to a website’s homepage where the audience is left to their own devices to figure out how to apply.
  • Mentioning a website where the needed information is hard to find.

 I know that most of you have never made mistakes like these when recruiting patients, but for those who did the above might be an eye opener.  Make sure you have one (1) button in your advertisement where people can leave their contact information with only one (1) click. Yes, this will increase the burden for the research team to try to get a hold of the patient. But please do not ever forget that we need the patient, the patient does not need us.

 Other things to consider

This article is about making your online clinical trial page as effective as possible but there is something else you can do to make this and your trial more successful.

That something else is SEHM, Subjective Experienced Health Methodology. SEHM is based on how much control and influence people believe they have on their health situation. This also defines what form and language is the most effective to communicate with them. All interactions with a patient can be aligned to the individual and specific needs, thus creating a much better patient experience.

Think about the benefits SEHM will have on the relationship you build with patients and, for example, the effectiveness of the informed consent process. Think about how patient centric things will be. It does not get any better than this!

The methodology is originally developed by Prof. Dr. Sjaak Bloem of the Nijenrode Busines University to align healthcare services to the individual needs of a patient. Recently we have started to integrate SEHM into our recruitment and retention services.

Please like our LinkedIn page if you want to be kept up to date on SEHM and other subjects related to patient recruitment and retention.


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