I was doing research on clinical site use of geo social networking and found that very few clinical sites actively use it. In fact, Clinical Trials of Texas was the only clinical site I found to be making strategic use of geo social networking. So I asked CTT to share their experience. – Rahlyn
It’s no secret that slow patient recruitment is one of the biggest impediments to advanced drug development today. As the largest multi-specialty research facility in San Antonio, Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. (CTT), has seen its fair share of challenging study protocols and patient populations.
Social media has become a valuable tool for us to reach out to a broader audience of potential patients and raise study awareness in our community. We are active members of several popular media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Geo-social networking sites, specifically, have been our most recent endeavor.
What Are Geo-Social Networking Sites?Geo-social sites such as Foursquare and Facebook Places are location-based social networking applications commonly used with mobile devices. These applications allow users to “check-in” in order to track, organize or communicate their physical location with friends. Users are also sometimes eligible for various promotions or deals when they check-in to a new location.
Nearly every location with a physical address is a potential check-in point for geo-social media users. As a site, we felt it would be best to take the reins and manage the presentation of our site on these applications. To increase check-ins at our site, we’ve hung flyers in heavy patient traffic areas and we offer check-in deals to encourage new users. First time check-ins are eligible to receive a small gift at our front desk. These gifts are inexpensive and CTT brand specific (e.g. reusable totes, water bottles, magnets and pens).
What We Like About Geo-Social Media
- Raising awareness at no cost – Unlike expensive television, radio or print campaigns, geo-social networking is often entirely free of cost and typically requires minimal routine maintenance. If someone checks-in at your site, it’s essentially a free endorsement from a trusted source.
- Information spreads instantaneously – Like all social media networks, geo-social check-ins have the potential to reach out to hundreds or even thousands of individuals. Users who check-in often have the option of syncing their accounts with other social media such as Twitter or Facebook Feeds, so the information is being spread very quickly across multiple social media applications.
- Detailed demographic data – Users that check-in are tracked and analyzed by demographics such as age and gender. Foursquare specifically, even provides social reach statistics i.e., how many people have sent their check-in to Facebook or Twitter feeds.
While geo-social networking has a lot of potential to be a successful patient recruitment tool, the overall impact at our site is still undetermined. There is no doubt that patients have been checking in at our site, however, it has been difficult to track whether or not patient check-ins are actually translating into new study applications or increased community awareness.
Many of our studies do target an older population, so we speculate that this has made the process a little slower to catch on. As a site, we do anticipate social media in all contexts to aid in the efficiency of future enrollment goals. We see it as a more focused, cost-effective way to connect with targeted audiences in the San Antonio community.
Find out more about Clinical Trials of Texas Inc. at SAresearch.com