4 Reasons Your Patient Recruitment Isn’t Working

Recruiting patients for patient-powered networks (PPN) – such as disease registries, disease management programs, or wellness programs – is important for several reasons:

  1. The patient data captured outside of the clinic is central to developing a 360 degree view of a patient, their environment, condition, and health outcomes.
  2. Patient data helps drive health research, providing insights into subpopulations and specific circumstances, ultimately leading to personalized care and improved patient outcomes.

Developing this 360 degree patient profile requires they participate and engage within the patient-powered network. Likewise, health research requires data from a sufficient patient population to analyze and extract meaningful results. Getting patients to do this is easier said than done.

Below are four reasons why patient recruitment for your patient-powered network isn’t working as well as you would like and tips for fixing it.

Patients don’t know about the PPN

This is probably one of the easiest issues to fix – tell them about it! One of the best ways to spread the word about your patient-powered network is through providers informing patients of this option.

Of course, it is difficult to cram the check-up, conversation, and additional information within this short amount of time appointment. If the provider is unable to inform the patient, include some educational information in within their patient portal, a follow-up email, pamphlet, or other forms of communication.

Other ways to reach patients is through online channels, such as search and social media (e.g. ads and monitoring). 1 in 3 people use social media for health discussions. This is a perfect opportunity to engage with these individuals, answering their health questions and spreading the word about your patient-powered network.

Patient don’t see the value of participating

Another reason patients may be hesitant to sign up is they may not see value in participating. Patients may think the patient-powered network is only for a certain type of person, or it won’t be worth their time.

For patients like these, you must build credibility and show why participating is both valuable for themselves and the others like them. One way this can be accomplished is by creating content on the purpose and success of the PPN, as well as compelling stories on individuals involved. This content can be produced in a variety of forms, such as:

  • Infographics,
  • Case Studies,
  • Blogs, or
  • Videos.

Get creative! Focus on creating value through education and prove that it is helping improve the outcomes of similar others, as well as health research focused on their health condition.

Patients lose interest during the sign up process

After all the hard work put in to spreading the word and building credibility for your patient-powered network, it would be unfortunate to lose patients during the actual registration process – but it happens. This is where data analytics, testing, tools similar to Google Analytics become useful.

Answer some basic questions, such as:

  • Are patients beginning the registration process?
  • If so, where are they falling off?
  • Are there patterns in the way patients navigate through the process?

After obtaining and digging through the data to answer these questions, start asking “Why?” This is the opportune time to be put on your goggles and lab coat (note: not actually required). Make hypothesis on why patients may be leaving the registration process and test them.

Go through it yourself to test the functionality and user experience across devices (e.g. desktop, tablet, mobile). The goal is to make registration as painless and intuitive as possible. So, are there spots where it could be better? How can you make the process easier and/or shorter? Simple tweaks to text or something as menial as the color of a button can make a significant difference.

To gather enough data may take a couple of days or weeks but knowing this information will allow you to make an informed decision and optimize the registration process.

Patient simply are uninterested

Let’s be honest – some patients are simply uninterested in signing up for a patient-powered network. They are aware of the PPN, and see the value in participating, but are apathetic about participating in research or a care program. So, what do you do to get these patients engaged?

Get them to take a smaller first step by engaging them in another fashion. For example, ask them to subscribe to a newsletter or to follow one of your social media channels. Nurturing campaigns through these mediums can work wonders to maintain levels of awareness and pique interest over time. Regularly sending snackable and valuable content will help keep you top of mind. Eventually, they’ll either unsubscribe (this is fine, life goes on) or something will spark their interest to join. With these patients, you’re playing the waiting (room) game.

Above are four reasons why patient recruitment is stagnate and how to get the engine burning again. But be creative; there are a number of ways to do this. What some ways you have used or seen to engage and recruit patients for a patient-powered network? Let us know in the comment section below.

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Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine