How to Access Real-Time Analytics from Your Study Website to Enhance Clinical Trial Management

By
Jin Kim
March 12, 2024
7
min read
Share this post

If you're running a clinical trial and have a study website set up, you're off to a great start. It's an important step to promote awareness of your clinical trial, provide more information on the study, and make it easier for potential participants to find your study as they browse the web.

One trend that we noticed recently is that the sponsor's Clinical Operations team often does not have real-time access to what's going on at their study website. It's common for smaller biotech companies to have their Contract Research Organization (CRO) or digital patient recruitment vendor build out a study website for their clinical trial. With analytics tools like Google Analytics implemented on your study website, you can track all activities in real-time, but sponsors are often receiving weekly updates from their CRO or recruitment vendor.

This seems to be a step backwards to obtain weekly snapshots when real-time, comprehensive data is available. Sponsors know their study best, so their Clinical Operations teams should have all their data at their fingertips for a transparent clinical trial management. Some vendors have their own reporting portals, but those dashboards often have fixed visualizations and do not have the flexibility to create new dashboards or easily combine with other data sources, like the Electronic Data Capture (EDC) and Interactive Response Technology (IRT), so Clin Ops teams still have to create spreadsheet trackers.

In the era of digital recruitment, things change quickly, and your goal in Clinical Operations is getting to database lock and data readout in a timely manner.

In this article, we'll dive into tactical steps for what are the essential metrics and KPI's you should be measuring, how biotech companies are overcoming this barrier today, and how you can easily obtain real-time access to your study website metrics.

What is a Study Website?

Though patients often visit ClinicalTrials.gov to search for clinical trials, it's not a substitute for sponsors having their own study website. ClinicalTrials.gov is not very user friendly, and patients can easily get overwhelmed with the volume of studies listed.

With a study website for your clinical trial, you can make it easier for patients to discover your study as they browse the web for their condition or potential treatment options, provide information that is easy to understand, and answer any frequently asked questions about your study. You can also add an online prescreener for potential participants to check for eligibility and send referrals of those who wish to be contacted to your research sites to bolster their recruitment efforts.

For more information on the importance of having a study website for your clinical trial, please check out our article on "Boosting Clinical Trial Recruitment Through Study Websites: A Cost-Effective Strategy for Bolstering Patient Recruitment."

How are Clinical Operations Teams Tracking Today

Today, many Clinical Operations teams across biotech and pharmaceutical companies are creating spreadsheet trackers to record how many people are visiting their study website, which website domains are they coming from (i.e. Google search, Facebook ads), which regions they are from, which pages are they looking at, how many are starting the online prescreener, how many people are passing the prescreener, and how many are providing consent to be contacted for the study. However, these metrics change very quickly, and logging these numbers into spreadsheet trackers is not very efficient.

On the other hand, their CRO or online recruitment vendors often share these metrics during weekly meetings, but because online recruitment strategies can change quickly, all the time between those reports can become a black box. Some vendors provide their own reporting portal that can be helpful to view the real-time metrics, but they tend to be a subset of all the data that may have been available from your study website.

More importantly, Clinical Operations teams need to understand how these metrics near the top of funnel are actually translating into consents, screening visits, randomizations, drug supply at each site, and end of treatment. Therefore, they need to juxtapose the study website data with reports from their EDC for visits and IRT for drug supply. Because various systems do not integrate well, most biotech companies are compiling spreadsheet trackers that they update manually.

At larger pharmaceutical companies, a Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS) can be helpful, but even then, data integration between different systems can pose a challenge, and for smaller biotech companies, a formal Clinical Trial Management System and its implementation can be time-consuming and cost prohibitive.

Why You Should Have Access to Real-Time Metrics for Transparency

Methods described above can work, but they tend to be tedious or incomplete. We believe that the sponsors' Clinical Operations teams should have full visibility into what's going on with their study website. After all, it is your study website, and you need to have all the information at your disposal for optimal clinical trial management. Your data is your data.

What we have discovered when sponsors also have access to the real-time study website analytics is that it fosters better communication and collaboration with their CRO, recruitment vendors, and research sites. It allows the Clinical Operations teams to ask questions about the inbound traffic to the study website, why they might be seeing steep drop-offs at a certain step of the recruitment funnel, or what caused a sudden uptick in potential participants passing the online prescreener. As the sponsor, it's your responsibility to work closely with your vendors and research sites to get to data readout in a timely manner, and to do so, you need to have a firm grasp on what each of your partners is doing well or perhaps is in need of improvement.

In a few rare cases, we have seen outages on study websites that weren't otherwise notified to the sponsor, but it was shown on the study website analytics where there were suddenly zero traffic on the website. If this happens on your study, you'd want to have a conversation with your vendor because all the ad spend during the outage would have been wasted.

How You Can Obtain Access to Your Study Website Analytics

To obtain access to real-time metrics for your study website, you need to first verify which analytics tool is implemented on the backend. Google Analytics tends to be the most popular analytics tool that is implemented for study websites, but other ones include Mixpanel, Woopra, and Meta (Facebook) Pixel.

You can easily find out by entering your study website's URL into a tool like BuiltWith. Under the "Analytics and Tracking" section, check which analytics tool(s) have been implemented on your study website.

You will most likely find that Google Analytics is one of the analytics tools that was been implemented. To gain access, please ask your website or digital recruitment vendor to provide you with "Viewer" role to the Google Analytics dashboard. Because website vendors and digital recruitment vendors want to collaborate effectively with their sponsors, we have seen that many recruitment vendors are making it easy for Clinical Operations teams to gain access upon request.

List of roles in Google Analytics

Once you gain access, you will have visibility into all the pre-built reports on Google Analytics breaking down user acquisition, user engagement, user retention, and user attributes and demographics. If you have any questions on how to use Google Analytics, here is a helpful video from the Google Analytics team, and you can also reach out to us for a quick tutorial on how to make sense of these metrics in the context of your study.

Sample view of Google Analytics dashboard with reports listed on the left-hand side

Final Thoughts

For Clinical Operations teams at smaller biotech companies, getting to database lock and data readout in a timely manner is crucial for the company's financial stability. A study website is often near the top of your recruitment funnel, and understanding what's going well and what's not working is crucial to increasing awareness of your study and driving more referrals to your research sites.

In this article, we shared how you should be analyzing your study website to ensure timely recruitment, improve collaboration with your recruitment or website vendors, and how you can easily obtain access to the real-time data associated with your study website, if you don't already have access today.

Here at Miracle, we provide the integrations to connect your study website, EDC, IRT, etc., into a single, real-time dashboard for Clinical Operations teams. Our robust integrations and ongoing work with Clinical Operations teams at biopharma companies can get you set up with Miracle in just a few days. If you'd like to learn more about Miracle, please reach out.

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.