I recently had the opportunity to leave a very rainy Washington,
D.C., and travel to sunny Florida to the annual Site Solutions Summit to
spend three days networking and collaborating with professionals in
the clinical research field. The Site Solutions Summit is a meeting
of the clinical ecosystem, a term used by a keynote speaker at the
Summit that I found to be a perfect description for those in
attendance. At the Summit, research sites, sponsors, service
providers, and CROs gather to meet face to face, a novel occurrence
these days, to focus on the industry as a whole and on what we can
all do together to advance health through clinical research.
I attended sessions focusing on patient recruitment and
retention, and a few common themes kept popping up during
Tell me how to use social media to promote my site
or my study.
First, it was universally agreed that sites should be enrolling
from within their practice, but it's often necessary to pull from
outside the practice to meet enrollment goals and timelines. Great,
but where does a site begin? Enter the ubiquitous world of social
media. Sure it's everywhere,
but does clinical research have a place in it? The resounding
answer is "yes!" Now, how do we use a medium based on
user-generated content and transparency to promote something that
takes its privacy very, very seriously? What are the rules?
It was noted during one of the sessions that as an industry we
are basically in a learning phase where recruitment companies,
sponsors, CROs, IRBs, and sites have varying experience and comfort
levels with social media, and that's okay. Let's not let the fact
that we are in the gray as far as standard guidelines deter us from
venturing forward into what can be an affordable and successful
outreach tactic to bring patients to sites. Let's talk about it!
Ask your sponsor, ask your IRB, ask your marketing team, or ask MMG
how to employ this tactic. As was the theme at the Summit, let's
come together as a community and navigate this together by starting
conversations and setting ground rules that ensure that this is an
outreach tactic we are all comfortable using.
Some guidelines that we practice at MMG:
- Place online ads on social media sites where people are talking
about research or conditions
- Disable comments on social media pages, but always provide a
way for someone to contact you with questions
- Have online ads direct people to a research site website or an
IRB-approved study website if available.
You want to use social media to start the conversation or
introduce the idea of research or a study but then finish that
conversation at your site.
You can't tell if it's working if you don't track
Another hot topic of conversation at the Summit was the use of
metrics to gauge the impact of your campaigns. If you're going to
spend your budget placing advertising or doing outreach, you should
track it. Metrics allow you to manage costs and put your money
toward the best strategies and have stats to show sponsors if you
want to ask for more funding. Tracking can be accomplished on any
outreach tactic whether it's calls to a site, visits to a website,
or contacts made at a community outreach event. You don't need
fancy software to accomplish tracking. You can use Google Analytics or at
least maintain a list of calls your site received from ad you ran.
Start tracking early so you can course correct if you find you're
not getting your target market quite right. Are the wrong patients
calling in? Do you need to revise your ad or at least where you are
placing it? You track all your other budget items, you should track
The mantra for the Summit was Fresh Strategies for Remarkable
Performance. To accomplish that, we need to keep the conversation
going and the ideas flowing and the Summit was a true embodiment of
that. Can't wait for next year's conference already!