Mobile and Digital Initiatives in Patient Recruitment and Retention


3 years 3 months ago

We are frequently asked about digital and mobile initiatives to recruit and retain patients.  Digital and mobile initiatives represent the huge net that anything web-based generally falls into when interacting with patients.  This can be as simple as a study website or smartphone application, or as complex as a full digital strategy inclusive of social media and patient portals.  The internet, social media, and the need for mobile communication are simply a growing part of everyday life.

As patient recruitment and retention efforts enter further into the digital marketing space, many misconceptions circulate hindering the adoption of online/mobile initiatives. So, we are busting a few of the common myths we hear regularly in an effort to capitalize on this huge consumer space:

MYTH: “Not a sufficient number of adults search the web or use smartphones for health information to justify the cost.”

ACTUALLY: Adults are searching online and for seeking out health information!

  • 87% of U.S. adults use the internet
  • 90% of U.S. adults own a cell phone
  • 58% of U.S. adults own a smartphone
  • 52% of smartphone owners have used their phone to look up health or medical information
  • 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year
  • 77% of online health seekers say they began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

(Source: Pew Research Center)

MYTH: “Social media is free so there is no need to pay for a study website.”

ACTUALLY: Creating a static social media account to push content without engaging a targeted online community is like talking alone in an empty room. Social media is just that – social. It is much more effective to use social media by leveraging existing relationships and active conversations among related groups. Internet users trust recommendations and content from people they know, so instead of trying to gain new followers with a static page, encourage sites or advocacy groups with active pages to post your study website in support of recruitment efforts.

MYTH: “Study websites are only useful in the US.”

ACTUALLY: Many regions outside of the US actually have the highest levels of trust in study branded websites, ahead of the United States and Europe. (Source: Nielsen)

MYTH: “Apps don’t provide additional value in clinical trials.”

ACTUALLY: Mobile apps can be used successfully to provide value by engaging the sites in the patient recruitment efforts.  Having a study-specific app allows Sponsors to provide inclusion/exclusion criteria, visit schedules, and other important criteria for the sites to have at their fingertips.  No longer do sites need to search for paper files when the patients are in the exam room; rather, Investigators and Study Coordinators can pull up criteria as they are making decisions for their patients.

There is no reason to steer clear of mobile/digital strategies when it comes to patient recruitment and retention. Digital solutions can be very effective when included in the right overall strategy and can provide an enhanced patient experience.  

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