- Society for Clinical Research Sites – SCRS


December 2018

We’ve Got A Patient for That!

Back in the days of yore (or just about 15 years ago, when social media really took off), doctors would search through dozens of binders of patient profiles to attempt to identify patients who might be good candidates to participate in a clinical trial.

While many clinical trial sites still utilize a version of this approach, things have changed. First, these records are now often stored digitally, with search options that remove the “Where’s Waldo?”-style hunt for information that was once necessary. Second, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were introduced. Social media has proven to be an effective tool for disseminating information, but is it also a reliable means for recruiting patients?

The short answer is, yes.

According to this article, the average person spends more than five years of their life on social media. This breaks down to almost 2 hours per day (which I would venture to guess is on the extremely low usage end). Another article states that the average person checks social media 17 times per day – about once every hour that they’re awake.

The above statistics alone demonstrate that social media outlets are a good place to market or recruit for just about anything. How can social media be utilized to be especially helpful for clinical trial recruitment?

Target your patient population. Facebook advertising software allows you to tailor who you reach when you create a paid advertisement. The platform collects information about its users’ online activity that will allow you to target a very specific group of potential patients when recruiting for a clinical trial.

Get your company name and trial in front of potential patients. Have ever scrolled through your Facebook feed only to see an ad for the dog food you just purchased online for your pet? This works similarly for anything anyone searches for online. While this may give you the heebie-jeebies on a personal level, it is an incredibly effective tool to reach those who are a good fit for a particular trial or for the studies your site conducts overall. Far more effective than sorting through dozens of binders, right?

Become a resource. You can do more than advertise your trials in these ads, of course. Many sites choose to provide free educational tools for those who click on their ad. The added bonus is, of course, that the click gets them to your website, providing exposure to your site and to the relevant clinical trial(s).