Communication and Engagement Strategies
Clinical research sites are essential to the success of any given trial and as such, require time and attention. The goal is to ensure that your sites engage and deliver key performance metrics, such as:
- Data query resolution
- Overall study conduct efficiency
- Patient enrollment
- Patient retention
- Protocol compliance
So, how do I engage my sites?
Establish a common goal
Use a common goal to get each site to buy in. As the trial progresses, create an environment of friendly competition across sites and recognize laudable achievements. Finally, for better site management, provide the sites with the easy-to-use technologies, support, and resources that they need to achieve/exceed their enrollment objectives.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Communication to sites has evolved from quarterly, printed newsletters to utilizing technology to maintain contact with sites. Regardless of the chosen technology platform (an intranet, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), to be appealing, communication must:
- Provide personalized, relevant, and usable information
- Be easy to access and use
- Create a sense of community around the trial
- Feature Google-like search capabilities throughout the portal
- Include other valuable solutions in one place (i.e., documents, training modules, contacts, visit guides, etc.)
The goal of technology as a means of site engagement can ensure sites read your messages, enable monitors to follow up with sites that do not and establish a cadence of communication to keep your trial at top of mind for the Investigators and site staff. Keep in mind that this communication should always include information such as an announcement of a protocol amendment being released, drug resupply instructions, or updated hours of study team availability.
Many successful trials have created unique names and marketing-like items to promote the trial not only within the site but also to patients. Branding may lead to a greater sense of community and shared ownership between the Sponsor, sites, and patients. Too few patients participate in trials for which they could be eligible and communicating the trial in a more down-to-earth and approachable manner, may lead to enhanced enrollment.
Recognizing the efforts of those sites and staff that are making meaningful contributions to the enrollment of the trial can further the sense of community. The regular sharing of these achievements is useful and productive in maintaining site engagement. Also, a friendly level of competition never hurts to motivate this hyper-competitive group.
Without sites, there would be no patients. Remember to treat them well, have fun and provide them with the tools and resources to be successful. The future of healthcare depends on it.