It’s the greatest time of the year, well at least in my opinion. It’s March Madness. For those of you who don’t know, every year in March the NCAA basketball tournament captures the eye of the sporting world, consisting of brackets, upsets, buzzer beaters, and heartbreak.
Where am I going with this? As I sit in my office, I think about some of the biggest issues that face the clinical trial industry regarding the adoption and implementation of new products. These products – such as apps, reimbursement systems and travel programs, among many others – are hot topics in the industry right now. But sponsors are still wondering, “If we purchase this product for our clinical trial, will our sites use it?”
Product awareness and promotion are an absolute must. Every year, I run a March Madness bracket where people can sign up, choose their winners, and compete for that ever-elusive perfect bracket. My goal is to grow the number of participants every season, which is a difficult task. To succeed, I rely on a multifaceted strategy.
First, I work out a communication plan and identify timelines, as well as all of the outlets I want to use to communicate with every party involved. A communication plan is key when trying to establish consistency across March Madness brackets, and the same principal applies in clinical trials. When utilizing a product in a clinical trial, it is necessary to map out messaging, timing, and frequency of site communications surrounding key dates, role of site participation, and tips and techniques. In supporting new products and processes, it’s important to notify sites when new tools become available.
The next step is to create awareness and establish the regulations of the bracket; I prefer to do this through a Facebook event as I can reach the majority of my audience in one step. I relate this to conducting introductory webinars which help promote awareness of products encouraging usage of available tools. This is also a great opportunity for users at the site-level to ask questions about products and provide feedback.
Throughout March Madness, I try to consistently evaluate my communication plan to see if other tactics might better support the bracket. To maintain communication between all participants, I rely on a mix of email, text, and phone call outreach. Not everyone in my bracket is on Facebook, and similarly, not all sites in a clinical trial can attend a webinar during the designated times proposed, or are inclined to communicate in this way. There needs to be repetition and follow-up through a diverse set of mediums to ensure that every site involved is on the same page.
The final aspect is continuing the dialogue. Once the tournament kicks off you can’t disappear –you need to be able to provide responses to ongoing questions and keep all participants in the know at all times. In the same way, site support is one of the strongest outlets for sites. Open lines of communication are required for any questions or issues they may encounter throughout the trial.
If new products for clinical research are going to succeed, they need to be used – that’s why it’s critical that we promote product awareness, and supporting sites as they navigate their capabilities.
In short, don’t fall into the cliché and “set it and forget it.” And finally, if you’re still in the running, good luck in your brackets.