Boosting Clinical Trial Recruitment Through Study Websites: A Cost-Effective Strategy for Bolstering Patient Recruitment

By
Jin Kim
March 6, 2024
5
min read
Share this post

If you are a Clinical Operations leader, your primary objectives are to ensure that you recruit patients quickly into your clinical trial, collect high quality data at your research sites, and achieve data readout in a timely manner. With over 80% of clinical trials being delayed or closed due to issues with patient recruitment, your ability to recruit patients is one of the most important factors for whether you will be able to complete your study on your planned trial timelines and within budget.

Larger pharmaceutical companies may have ample resources to overcome such delays more easily, but if you are running Clinical Operations at a smaller biotech company, you have a very limited runway. Meeting trial timelines is essential to achieving data readouts and reaching the next funding milestones, in addition to conserving runway on the back end beyond data readout.

Traditional recruitment methods at your trial sites may be effective if they already have all the patient population necessary for your clinical study, but they may not fully leverage the potential of today's digital world. This is where the strategic implementation of a study website comes into play, offering a supplementary avenue for enhancing patient recruitment efforts and helping your trial sites recruit patients more efficiently.

Complementing Traditional Recruitment with Digital Presence

While relying on research sites to recruit patients from their existing populations is a common practice, it's essential to acknowledge the limitations of this approach. In today's digital age, potential participants often turn to the internet to find information on ongoing clinical trials. ClinicalTrials.gov is a popular website for patients to search for clinical trials, but it's not very user-friendly and contains a lot of text that can be difficult to understand. Also, because there are so many studies, patients can become overwhelmed. In fact, many studies also list the corresponding study website on their ClinicalTrials.gov listing.

If you put yourself into a patient's shoes, they often use Google, Bing, or other search engines to learn more about their condition and explore options. Depending on the demographics of your target patient population, they may be using Mac or Windows computers, or Chrome, Safari, or Edge browsers, each of which may have different default search engines. With your study website, you can rank for the keywords that your patients would be searching for online, in addition to running any paid ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels.

A well-designed study website serves as a central information hub, providing detailed insights about your trial, eligibility criteria, benefits of participation, and list of participating trial sites. You should also include an online prescreen questionnaire for potential participants to fill out, and if they fit certain criteria, you can have them fill out their contact information to be contacted by their preferred trial site near them. Especially if recruitment is slower than expected, providing high quality referrals to your research sites can boost your progress.

This digital presence not only complements your sites' recruitment initiatives but also significantly broadens your reach to a wider audience.

Bolstering Recruitment for Faster Data Readout

The primary goal of any clinical trial is to reach data readout as quickly and efficiently as possible. A study website can be a critical tool in achieving this objective. By making your trial more accessible and understandable to potential participants, you can broaden the top of your recruitment pipeline, and ultimately, speed up the overall recruitment process. Faster recruitment means a quicker path to data readout, ultimately helping to conserve valuable runway post-data readout. In the competitive and cash-intensive world of biotech and pharma, saving time equates to saving resources, allowing for more focused investment in future research and development.

Building SEO and Online Presence for Future Success

Beyond immediate recruitment benefits, establishing a study website has long-term advantages. By creating content and utilizing search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, your trial gains visibility online. This enhanced online presence not only aids current recruitment efforts but also lays the foundation for future studies, such as phase 3 trials. A robust online footprint ensures that when potential participants search for clinical trial opportunities, your studies are among the top results, fueling recruitment for future endeavors.

Cost-Effective Solutions for Every Budget

Perhaps the most compelling argument for the adoption of a study website is its cost-effectiveness. Platforms such as WordPress and Webflow offer affordable options for website creation, with plans starting at just $8-14 per month which is most likely to be pennies compared to other items in your trial budget.

Additionally, tools like Google Analytics provide invaluable insights into website traffic and user behavior at no additional cost. This can help you understand from which ads or channels that potential participants are visiting your study website, how many of them are submitting and passing your online prescreener, and how many are consenting to be contacted by sites to learn more about participating in your study. Detailed and real-time analytics to break down these components of your recruitment pipeline can unveil what's working and not working so that you can make adjustments and improve the conversion rates at each step of the pipeline. WordPress and Webflow have built-in hooks to work with Google Analytics, and you can instantly see real-time data related to your study website.

If cost is a concern to working with digital recruitment vendors who handle a lot of this effort, you can certainly run it in-house within your Clinical Operations team -- this minimal investment can lead to significant returns in terms of recruitment efficiency and trial advancement.

Recap

Integrating a study website into your clinical trial's recruitment strategy offers a multitude of benefits. From enhancing recruitment efforts and supplementing ongoing initiatives at research sites to building a strong online presence for future studies, the value of this cost-effective approach is undeniable. As Clinical Operations leaders, it's important to embrace digital strategies that can complement traditional methods, ensuring that your trial not only meets its recruitment targets but also achieves database lock in a timely manner. In the era of clinical trials where patients are constantly browsing the web, a study website is not just an option; it's a necessity for success.

Why miss out on making your study more accessible?

If you have a study website but don't know what metrics you need to be tracking, please reach out. We'd also be happy to review your study website and provide tips on how to improve its visibility on searches, which can help lower the cost of paid ad spending.

Share this post
Jin Kim

Similar articles

Ready to save time on clinical trials?

Stop wasting time on Excel trackers. In less than a week, get data-driven insights from an automated, real-time dashboard.