It's clear that we are now all living in a mobile-first world. While it would be hard to argue that those in the clinical research industry can't see this, although sadly one still can, most are still struggling to find solutions for how to better implement mobile technology when it comes to patient recruitment and retention. The obvious application would be study participant reminders for their clinical trial appointments. An even more sophisticated application would be study participant recruitment using mobile phone numbers gathered from a website landing page usually obtained through Google or Facebook advertisements. Companies such as Mosio and Study Kik have been executing on these strategies fairly well. We have also started to see the use of patient e-diaries through mobile phone applications for specific studies instead of the typical paper based surveys or surveys accessed from a research clinic's study-dedicated laptop.
For the industry to truly reap the rewards of a mobile-first world, we must do a better job at raising potential study participant awareness of clinical trials through these tools. Most people now spend more time browsing the web from their mobile phones as opposed to their laptop or desktop computers. Furthermore, 75% of all mobile phone activities involve some form of social media. Despite this fact, clinical researchers are still lagging far behind other industries when it comes to engaging their customers and ultimately converting them to, in this case, study participants. There are probably only dozens of videos on YouTube that look to directly engage potential trial participants. This is a very obvious missed opportunity that can still be capitalized on by any creative and resourceful content creator.
Listening to potential study participants has never been easier either. Twitter.com/search is still one of the most underutilized features in all of social media. Through this tool one can search for key terms relevant to a particular medical condition that a potential trial participant may be discussing about with someone else, or just thinking out loud as social media often provides the avenues for. At least a few organizations have figured out how to create mobile friendly ads that show up directly in one's Facebook feed to attract potential study participants that will lead them to a landing page where they can hopefully get converted into a trial volunteer. However, I believe that content creation will be the most effective way to not only raise the general public's awareness of clinical trials, but also provide some much-needed upfront value to specific sufferers of certain medical conditions that may still be living without adequate online resources to better cope with their illnesses.
It is this writer's hope that someone, perhaps even one of his own companies, will be able to provide this much-needed service and demystify clinical research through consistent, informative, engaging, and ultimately much-needed content creation for some of the most underserved yet highly sought after "key demos" in just about any industry: patients. In a future article I will discuss some of the reasons why I believe no one has been able to effectively pull this off yet.