Unlocking the True Potential of Social Media to Facilitate Clinical Trial Education and Accelerate Patient Recruitment

The release of Apple’s ResearchKit and CareKit showed how the open-source framework has helped medical researchers collect data through apps on the iPhone, connecting millions of people to health studies and information to better understand medicine and disease. However, despite these technological advancements, recruitment for clinical trials is still slow for the majority of studies currently in progress.

The Variability of Recruitment in Clinical Trials

According to a study by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, 37% of sites in a given trial typically under-enroll, while 11% fail to enroll even a single patient. Studies that do meet their patient enrollment goals usually have to double their original timelines, further delaying drug development.1 In order to increase the number of participants in clinical trials, we need to find a better way to increase awareness and educate patients about these studies. A largely untapped potential in social media may be the key in reaching a bigger population for finding volunteers.

A New Recruitment Strategy

A 2009 study compared the efficacy of three different approaches in recruitment: direct mail, email, and contact via an online service for monitoring medicine with a social media network. Results showed that only 3.6% (905 out of 25,000) of direct mail recipients and 0.5% (157 out of 30,000) of email contacts responded. In contrast, 13.2% (482 out of 3657) of the social media network members responded, demonstrating this strategy as the most effective.2 Current methods of patient recruitment still largely rely on traditional means, such as newspaper, radio, and television ads and physician referrals. With millions of people posting content on social media and blogs, online networks provide a promising alternative in expanding awareness and knowledge of clinical studies.

CureClick and the Community

The advent of social media provides new options for recruitment, and some companies have jumped in with the best method they know: advertising. At CureClick, however, we believe that advertising is only the proverbial tip of of the iceberg when it comes to social media’s potential to accelerate trial recruitment. We think the key to unlocking the true potential of social media is to leverage the trusted relationships that already exist within these peer-powered health networks.

CureClick was specifically designed to help companies activate these networks, acting as a catalyst to increase education and maximize accessibility to medical research. As the world’s first crowdsourced clinical trial recruitment platform, we empower health advocates by providing tools and resources to inform patients and overcome common misconceptions about clinical trials.

These health advocates are educated through CureClick Academy — required training that ensures everyone who participates in information-sharing understands the expectations, regulations, and rules of the program. CureClick Ambassadors are active members in online communities who strive for the betterment of medical research and share information about clinical trials with patients who need them. We help our Ambassadors by providing easy-to-understand content that is carefully reviewed for quality and accuracy. By moderating the posts the community generates through our platform, CureClick aims to eliminate the two biggest obstacles companies face when it comes to using social media for trial recruitment: misinformation and regulatory compliance.

Right now, the majority of information on clinical research is filled with medical jargon and unfamiliar terms to patients. CureClick posts are tailored to be easily understandable and communicable. Now all the data and information previously believed to be for the exclusive knowledge of medical professionals can be made accessible to everyone. Keeping this information transparent will make it easier for patients to volunteer for clinical trials and advance research.

If you’re passionate about helping your community and want to learn more about CureClick and becoming a CureClick Ambassador, take a look here: http://curec.lk/1Gb4toG

References:
  1. “89% of trials meet enrollment, but timelines slip, half of sites under-enroll.” Tufts CSDD (2013). http://csdd.tufts.edu/files/uploads/02_-_jan_15,_2013_-_recruitment-retention.pdf
  2. Bharmal, Murtuza and Stephenson, Hugo. “Direct-to-Patient Enrollment Strategies.” Applied Clinical Trials (2010). http://www.appliedclinicaltrialsonline.com/direct-patient-enrollment-strategies

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