Technology Targets Recruitment

Applied Clinical Trials

Applied Clinical Trials, Applied Clinical Trials-03-01-2010, Volume 0, Issue 0

Through digital signage, sponsors hope to increase enrollment in trials.

Educating patients about relevant clinical trials remains a huge challenge, and while formal recruitment efforts are important to hitting participant numbers, building awareness among patients can go a long way in lifting enrollment.

Studies reveal that nearly 85% of patients surveyed were unaware that clinical trials were a possible treatment option. The study by Harris Interactive also found that 76% of patients said that they would have been somewhat or very receptive to the opportunity to participate in a trial had they known about it.

Using marketing to build awareness of clinical trials is nothing new. From mass communication, including radio and newspaper ads, to on-site materials such as posters and brochures in doctors' offices, many tools hope to compel patients to speak proactively to their physicians about clinical trials.

But print and broadcast ads often reach too broad an audience, and potential candidates may be exposed to this messaging when they are preoccupied. Meanwhile, on-site marketing materials in doctors' offices often fail to capture the attention of waiting patients. Because of these shortcomings, it makes sense for sponsors and recruiters to explore new avenues for increasing trial awareness.

The technology behind it

In the Web-based, smart phone-enabled society we live in today, it's no surprise that digital screens are making their debut on the walls of schools, businesses, and now medical offices at an incredible rate. But digital signage is far more than the TV screen at a physician's practice.

Digital signage is most simply defined as single or multiple screens networked together that can be controlled electronically by a computer or similar hardware. This enables a network's operator to update and schedule content remotely, allowing for more targeted messaging.

With average wait times at doctors' offices exceeding 20 minutes, digital signage technology presents an ideal opportunity to educate prospective patients about a trial while they are already in a physician's office, hospital or other medical setting. Digital signage actually combines the advantages of other mediums—engaging content in a convenient setting where health care is top-of-mind.

Additionally, it takes the pressure off doctors to serve as the primary channel for informing patients about trials.

Trials seeking very specific candidates can target their message to niche audiences. For example, drugs requiring testing of female patients can opt to focus on displaying information on screens in the waiting rooms of women's clinics and gynecologists' offices. Trial treatments for skin disorders can seek out networks in dermatologists' offices.

There are several different models when it comes to digital signage networks. In many instances, health care facilities may subscribe to syndicated programming that produces health-related content for viewers. Working with the production company to create that programming presents an opportunity to select audiences from all the networks and screens that the network reaches.

Despite the different operation models, the technology gives recruiters the power to balance site-specific campaigns with broad-based approaches for reaching possible participants. And as digital signage networks grow in popularity, they will offer even more touch points to help trial sponsors combat some of the dire statistics they face when it comes to recruitment.

Robert Koolen President Scala Inc. [email protected]