Insights into using patient engagement to improve clinical study enrolment

Are you struggling to enrol health seekers onto your clinical study? Improving your patient engagement could make all the difference.

Getting health seekers involved in your research from the very beginning means you can find out exactly what the health seeker wants and needs, so you can design an experience that’s relevant to them.

Health seekers also need to understand all the information you give them throughout the process. So taking a patient-friendly approach in terms of language, messaging and design, for your recruitment materials goes a long way.

There are many steps you can take to improve enrolment in your clinical studies, and it all starts with listening to the health seeker.

Start from the beginning

Firstly, start with the study design. If you design a study that’s truly based around the health seeker’s priorities, they’re more likely to want to take part. The best way to do this, is by asking the health seekers themselves what they really want from a clinical study.

This can help you to identify the critical questions for your study, and which outcomes you need to measure. It also helps the health seekers to feel more like your partner, rather than a subject, and shows that you’re acknowledging their needs and incorporating them into your decision-making.

Health seekers say that being able to get involved and talk about the research would help them to feel more like a partner, rather than subject. So by building close relationships with them and patient advocacy groups, and conducting both qualitative and quantitative assessments to gain patient insights, you can gain statistically relevant data to create a study design that can be applied to your target population. As a result, this will increase the likelihood of them enrolling onto your clinical study.

Get creative with education

There’s a common theme when it comes to asking health seekers what they think about clinical studies: they simply want more information about them.

Often, health seekers feel like they don’t have enough information about clinical studies and the benefits of taking part in them. And if they do have information, they just don’t understand it. 77% of health seekers want the industry to make it easier to learn about clinical studies.

So, what can we do about it? We need to spread the word about the benefits of clinical studies, reach wider audiences, and give them all the information they need that’s easy to understand.

There are many ways we can do this:

The power of digital

Social media is a great way to reach a wider audience. So why not take advantage of this to inform patients about clinical studies?

This way, you can choose the best platform to use depending on your target population – reaching the right patients, faster.

Plus, advertising your clinical study doesn’t have to be boring. You can still inform health seekers of all the important stuff, but in a creative way. For example, you could create a website specifically designed to your clinical study. That way, the website can act as a main hub and you can direct health seekers to the website through different attention-grabbing ads on Google and Facebook, and even a short informational video on YouTube.

A pharmaceutical manufacturer used this approach and was able to fully enrol a clinical study for non-small cell lung cancer in just four months – proving that social media and digital advertising engages health seekers and improves the recruitment process.

Getting creative with your advertisements is one thing, but you can also take this on board for the informed consent form too – that way, you can really make sure that health seekers are getting all the information they need, in a way that they fully understand.

Testing communications before launching

When developing advertising materials for your study, there’s a lot of things you need to keep in mind, such as the diversity of your audience and the different language requirements. To make sure that you’re creating materials that health seekers are going to understand, why not engage with the health seeker at this point and get their feedback?

An early testing phase in your development process can help you to keep the costs down, because you can make any necessary adjustments to the ads before racking up large amounts of expenditure.

Patient engagement can improve retention, too

Although enrolling patients onto a clinical study is challenging, another hurdle is keeping them engaged to prevent them from dropping out. There are many reasons why some patients may want to drop out of a study, from the frequent site visits to the lack of communication throughout the study. However, the use of technology in clinical studies is becoming increasingly popular and is a great way to keep them engaged and improve retention.

For example, Electronic Clinical Outcome Assessments (eCOA) is a fast-growing digital tool for engaging with patients throughout clinical studies. With tools like this, they can access the platform on their mobile. It allows them to report their health outcomes, track their progress, get notifications and communicate with their healthcare provider whenever they need to. Giving health seekers 24/7 support throughout the clinical study can improve their overall experience, leading to improved retention rates. And a positive experience can improve enrolment for future studies, too.

Reinforce their important role

Once the study is complete, a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way. Health seekers can often feel frustrated if their contribution hasn’t been acknowledged, so continuing the engagement post-study can show that you’ve recognised their efforts and appreciate their contribution.

Plus, some health seekers say that they’d like to see the results from the study once it’s complete. So if it’s possible, send them the results and show how their contribution has helped to learn more about a potential new treatment.

Patient engagement following the study can improve the overall experience for a health seeker and may even increase the chance of them enrolling onto future clinical studies.


Overall, engaging with health seekers from the very beginning of a study, including the study design and marketing campaigns, and finding the best ways to communicate with them, can improve the enrolment process.

If you want to know more about the different ways you can improve clinical study enrolment, download our white paper here.

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