You’ve put in the work.
Months of planning will soon become a reality: you’ve diligently strategized your media plan, scrutinized every word of your outreach campaign, and ensured that your sites are prepared to receive each and every precious referral. You’ve thought of everything! Now it’s time to let it rip!
When planning a campaign, you can easily identify the one or two elements that could make or break its success. Strategy? Messaging? Sites? Countries? The list goes on and on. The most commonly overlooked, and most crucial messaging moment for your study is the patient online prescreener.
Why would I say such a thing? Because, not only does the prescreener serve as a “gateway” to participation; it’s truly the patient’s first direct interaction with your study. Now, I understand that key questions must be asked to see if a patient prequalifies, but there is an art, and sensitivity, to the way you ask these questions that can exude either a sense of your study team being “warm and welcoming” or “cold and clinical.”
So, how can you make your online screener feel welcoming and sincere? Here are five quick tips to get you started.
1. Be as transparent as plastic wrap!
2. Know your audience(s)
This seems really basic, but it’s often not thoroughly considered. Know who you are talking to – whether it is patients, caregivers, or sometimes both. Simple modifications to both copy and programming can make a huge difference when it comes to the user’s experience. Present questions that are appropriate for the audience – questions they will know the answers to. It also makes a difference in the referral. Cleary identifying what “type” of referral this is will be important information for a site. Who are they going to be speaking with on the phone? Doing this ensures smooth communication - not only between the screener and the user, but also between the site and the person on the other end of the line.
3. There is no such thing as a “Simple 50-Question Survey”
Keep screeners short! Resist the urge to ask ALL the questions everyone would want to know – this isn’t market research. That should have happened a long time before building your survey. Remember, this is a patient’s very first experience with your study. Make it a positive one. Ask the questions you need to ensure a solid initial screening. The goal is to bring qualified people to your sites for further qualification. Careful though: a short survey – or not asking the right questions – can lead to unqualified people flooding your sites. This often leads to many phone calls. No one wants that.
4. Keep calm. Have alternative questions.
Yes! Alternative questions. First, go in strong with your most important questions, keeping the screener to include around 4-6. In your efforts to keep it short, you may have left out questions that could further prequalify someone. You need to plan ahead. In case feedback from sites comes in where they are looking for a tighter prescreener because of a high failure rate, have IRB/EC-approved questions in your back pocket ready for deployment. This planning obviously saves you time, but it’s a positive message you can send to your sites!
5. Don’t leave them hanging!
Qualified? Quick follow-up from the site is key, but also provide a way for the patient to do the follow-up as well. For people who don’t qualify, remember, we are going for hugs here. Define ways to complete that circle of communication. Let them down easy. Suggest other resources that may be of interest. Provide a mechanism for the patient to stay in touch with your study if locations or eligibility criteria change.