May 16, 2023

The Real Reason Your Clinical Trials Aren’t Recruiting Enough Participants


The Real Reason Your Clinical Trials Aren’t Recruiting Enough Participants

Are you struggling to attract and retain qualified patients in your clinical trials? Your website could be to blame.

Clinical trials are the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry, with companies pouring millions into their participant recruitment and retention efforts. It costs more than $6,500 on average to recruit a single patient in a clinical study, and the cost of replacing a participant who drops out of an ongoing trial is even higher.

To conduct a randomized clinical trial (RCT), pharmaceutical companies need to recruit patients who meet specific criteria.

What’s the best way to do that?

Pharmaceutical companies can use any number of methods to identify potential participants for their trials, but the most popular strategy involves designing a clinical trial website and then promoting that website through targeted online advertising and social media marketing. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are frequently used to promote clinical trials and encourage potential participants to sign up.

Pharma companies also work directly with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to identify patients who may be eligible to participate in their clinical trials. However, even in those cases, most patients are directed by their doctors to visit the pharmaceutical company’s clinical trial website for more information.

What happens next — when the patient visits that website — usually determines their willingness to participate. Is the website engaging? Is it persuasive? Does it include the information that prospective participants are looking for and address any privacy concerns that patients might have?

Research shows that poor participant recruitment is the most frequent reason for premature discontinuation of randomized clinical trials. Clinical trial websites with confusing navigation, a lack of clear messaging, or privacy concerns can turn off would-be participants and make it harder to recruit. Not just that, but failing to securely share data from a trial website with investigators or site coordinators can slow down the enrollment process and hinder future drug development.

Not all clinical trial websites are created equal. Too many websites fail to attract the participants that pharma brands are looking for.

Whether you’re a pharmaceutical executive, a contract research organizer, or clinical trial coordinator, we’ve put together a list of the top reasons why clinical trial websites fail to attract the right patients, along with practical tips for enhancing the user experience and creating an impressive online presence.

Top 5 Reasons Why Clinical Trial Websites Fail

  • Lack of User-Friendly Design
    One of the top reasons why clinical trial websites fail to attract and retain participants is the lack of user-friendly design. Participants often find it difficult to navigate websites, find the information they need, and complete the required forms. A confusing or cluttered website design can deter potential participants from enrolling in a clinical trial. A website should be intuitive and user-friendly, with easy-to-understand language and clear instructions.
  • Insufficient Information
    Another common issue with clinical trial websites is that they fail to provide sufficient information about the study. Participants need to understand the purpose, procedures, and potential risks and benefits of any study before they agree to participate. A clinical trial website should include clear and concise explanations of the study protocol and eligibility criteria. Providing detailed information about the study can help participants make informed decisions about whether to enroll.
  • Limited Outreach and Marketing
    Even if a clinical trial website is well-designed and informative, it may not attract enough participants if it is not marketed properly. Potential participants may not be aware of the study, so it’s important to have a robust outreach strategy that’s developed and implemented by a digital agency that specializes in pharmaceutical marketing. Partnering with patient advocacy groups, advertising the study on social media, and reaching out to healthcare providers are all worthwhile activities when promoting a clinical trial website. The more outreach that’s done, the more likely it is that potential participants will be made aware of the study and consider enrolling.
  • Fear of the Unknown
    Clinical trials can be intimidating to patients, and fear of the unknown can deter people from enrolling. Participants may be worried about the potential risks of taking part in a randomized control trial, the time commitment required, or the possibility of receiving a placebo. It’s important to address these concerns on the clinical trial website and provide reassurance about the safety and benefits of participating in the study. Providing testimonials from past participants can also help alleviate fears and build trust in the study.
  • Limited Accessibility
    Limited accessibility can prevent enrollment and hinder an investigator’s retention efforts. Any clinical trial website should be accessible to people with disabilities, including those who are visually impaired or have limited mobility. Providing alternate forms of communication, such as phone or email, can also help people who may not be comfortable entering personal information on a website. Offering incentives, such as compensation for travel or time, can also help participants overcome logistical barriers to participating in a study.

Developing an effective clinical trial website requires a strategic approach that goes beyond simply listing study details. Pharmaceutical marketers should ideally work alongside clinical trial investigators to ensure any websites they’re developing are designed in a way that is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Websites should be visually appealing and communicate the study’s purpose. The use of clear and concise language goes a long way in ensuring participants can understand the study’s objectives and requirements.

The success of a clinical trial website depends on a number of factors, including the website design, whether the website includes sufficient information, outreach and marketing efforts, and accessibility. By focusing on these key areas, pharmaceutical companies can increase enrollment and retention rates, and ultimately, improve the success of their clinical trials.

To take the next step in developing a more effective clinical trial website, contact Esperienza Rx.

As a full-service digital marketing agency, EsperienzaRx knows the importance all the pieces of a brand’s digital ecosystem working together