Study Issues

Guest Expert Rahlyn Gossen: Designing Patient Friendly Websites for Clinical Trial Recruitment (Part 1 of 3)

Last Updated: Jul 28, 2014

Part 1: Why patient recruitment websites need thoughtful attention

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AccrualNet is delighted to introduce Guest Expert, Rahlyn Gossen, a widely recognized expert in digital strategies for clinical trial enrollment. Rahlyn is the founder of  Rebar Interactive, an award winning New Orleans-based  digital marketing and patient recruitment company that serves the clinical trial industry nationally and internationally. She manages the development and implementation of digital strategies for clinical trial enrollment and related goals. Prior to her current professional role, Rahlyn was a clinical research coordinator.  She writes about technology and innovation on her company's clinical trial blog and is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Applied Clinical Trials.

In this 3 part guest post, she shares some priceless guidance and resources for digital patient recruitment strategies.

Designing Patient-Friendly Websites For Clinical Trial Recruitment

  • Part I: Why Patient Recruitment Websites Need Thoughtful Attention
  • Part II: The 5 Patient-Friendly Basics of Trial Recruitment Websites
  • Part III: Anatomy of A Patient-Friendly Recruitment Website

From Rahlyn:

Clinical trials have increased in complexity over the years. As a result, clinical researchers must carefully juggle resources, particularly patient recruitment resources. Therein lies one of the biggest clinical trial recruitment challenges.

How do you determine the best allocation of limited patient recruitment resources? Answering this question is important for budgetary reasons, but it’s absolutely critical for operational reasons. No patients, no clinical trial.

AccrualNet is my best recommendation for answering this question. I highly encourage clinical researchers to closely consult with AccrualNet during patient recruitment planning for each trial. The energy you invest in this step will reap big returns down the road.

Where else should clinical researchers devote precious recruitment resources? Look no further than your patient recruitment website. Website design can be a key determinant in patient recruitment success. Not to mention that patient-friendly websites provide a better overall experience for patients.

 Why Patient Recruitment Websites Need Thoughtful Attention

Increasingly, websites are the hub of patient recruitment efforts, both online and offline. If you pay to get patients to your website and that website is not optimal, you lose money. But the biggest cost of a poorly designed website, whether you pay or don’t pay to get traffic to it, is opportunity cost.

Imagine you have a patient recruitment website averaging 40 visitors a day. No one put much thought into the website when it was designed, and it’s converting visitors to clinical trial referrals at a rate of 2%. You then realize that your website could be designed in a more patient-friendly manner. So you make some improvements, and the website begins converting at a rate of 3%. (Click on Example 1 above). This seemingly small difference in conversion rate (from 2% to 3%) results in 12 more patient referrals a month, or about 146 referrals a year. 

Now imagine you get some additional recruitment budget and you bring your website’s daily visitor count up to 70 a day. With this increase in visitors and a 3% conversion rate, you are now getting 63 patient referrals a month. Had you not previously optimized your website, you’d only be getting 42 patient referrals a month. (Click on Example 2 above). That’s a difference of 21 patient referrals a month, or about 256 referrals a year.

The increase in conversion rate from 2% to 3% represents a percent change of 50%. In what digital marketers refer to as “conversion optimization,” an improvement of this size is absolutely achievable. And with the National Cancer Institute estimating that only 5% of cancer patients participate in clinical trials, I don’t think we can afford to ignore such potential.

By now it should be clear that attention to your website’s design can reap big patient recruitment returns. Conversely, a poorly designed website can severely undermine your patient recruitment efforts. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many patient recruitment websites that fall into the latter category. Let’s make sure your website isn’t one of them.

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