The 24-Hour Window: Responding to Your Referrals Before They Lose Interest
Patient recruitment is often a time-consuming and high-cost step in completing your clinical trials. Your marketing team will have to develop the correct study message and a strong call-to-action to get people motivated to see if they prequalify. You must strategically target your patient population and generate interest in participation among this audience. A large portion of your budget will be spent on advertising and outreach. After doing all that work and spending all that money, do you really want to lose the referrals you generate because you fail to contact them while their interest was still hot?
Absolutely not – which is why it is so important to promptly contact each pre-qualified patient who has expressed interest in your study! Below are best practices for patient-follow up when recruiting for clinical trials:
1. Reach out within 24 hours of expressed interest
The most important thing to remember is to keep your follow-up within the 24-hour window! Reaching out to prospective patients within this time frame will lead to a higher percentage of these patients screening into your study. If you wait to contact these referrals, you run the risk of them losing interest or moving forward with a competing study. There are so many studies and options fighting for their attention! Show them you take their interest in participation seriously.
2. Have a dedicated person who handles patient scheduling
Study coordinators are very busy with their daily checklist of recruitment and study to-dos: chart reviews, media placement, referring physician outreach, community awareness, recruitment analysis, visit scheduling, patient compliance and retention, etc. This is often more work than one person can handle – and this doesn’t even include referral follow-up!
By dedicating a person within your study staff (or a third-party vendor who can manage this process for you), you alleviate the study coordinator’s burden and ensure prompt referral follow-up. A win-win!
3. Contact them using their preferred method of contact
As you build your pre-screening questionnaire or study interest form, ask potential participants for their preferred method of contact. If they provide this information, ensure you are contacting them using this outlined method of contact. If they say email is the best way to reach them, avoid calling them as they may not be able to answer.
4. Avoid contacting them during times they may not be available
Another question on your form should also ask for the best time to contact a referral (morning, afternoon, evening). The best way to get a response by a potential participant is to contact them during this time. To reach someone, it may be necessary to speak with them after your site’s “official” closing time. Often, people are unable to talk during their work day, and they may not be available until after 6pm. If you want them to screen into your study, it may mean having a flexible work schedule on your end to reach them at their available time.
5. Be persistent, it may take more than one call
While there may be times where your first attempt in reaching a referral is the only attempt needed, most times this may not be the case. People have very busy schedules, and they may not always be available to talk or respond the first time you reach out to them. Be patient and persistent! Give it a day or two and try again.
If your sites need assistance with following up with referrals within the 24-hour window, contact us to see how our Local Enrollment Specialists can help!