Recruitment calls are a piece of cake… said no one ever. Getting a hold of subjects can be tricky because everyone has different schedules and preferred ways to be contacted. We’ve asked IB-Recruit manager, Laurie Briones, for some insight on best practices as well as challenges she’s faced while calling potential patients. Here’s what she had to say!
What method of communication (i.e., phone, text, email) is best when trying to reach leads?
This is a tricky question because everyone is different. We might get a hold of someone by phone, text or email. Ultimately, what matters the most is to call the subject as soon as the lead comes in. And if they don’t respond to your phone call, don’t be afraid to send a follow-up text or email. The lead may be at work or may not feel comfortable answering phone calls from unknown numbers.
What are the best times to call an interested lead?
For this, there is no one right answer, since everyone may be available at different times of the day. At IB-Recruit, we use RealTime-CTMS to manage patients and take a medical history. The system allows us to send an automatic text as soon as the lead comes in, and a lot of times the patient responds with the best time to get a hold of them. My team and I find this extremely helpful when following up with leads because they will be expecting our call. RealTime has truly eliminated phone tag for us!
What are some challenges you’ve faced while managing a third-party recruitment call center?
The biggest challenge my team and I face is that most of the time, we are called upon when our clients get to a point where they are not able to get to the leads in a timely manner. Their rosters have patients that originally applied days or weeks ago. Subjects lose interest even if they are not contacted in the first 24 hours of submitting an application. In cases like this, it’s tough to be successful but we are persistent either way.
How fast should you attempt to call a lead?
I know that not all sites are able to get to the leads the instant they apply but my recommendation is to call them, text or email them as soon as possible. We’ve seen a great response when calling leads within the first five minutes following their application and we start seeing a decline in response rates after an hour or so.
What if sites don’t have the capability to follow-up with leads within the first 24 hours?
For the most part, leads apply through online mediums (i.e., Website, Facebook, Google Adwords) which are notorious for delivering information almost immediately. If your site fails to contact them in a timely manner, you run the risk of them forgetting they applied or for the lead to lose interest completely. I would recommend for the site to make this a priority in their recruitment strategy. If hiring more recruiters is a financial or strategic challenge, consider outsourcing your recruitment efforts. The monetary impact tends to be less than hiring and training new recruiters and the quality of work will be more consistent.
What are some recommendations you would give to in-house call centers?
I would say to make sure everyone is trained on all the studies and the basics of clinical trials. This is critical to ensuring there is a seamless transition from one recruiter to the next. Play on everyone’s strengths, but also ask who would like to do what, that way they are not burned out.
We send roster status updates 2x per week, which has worked well for us. This shows where all the recruitment statuses are and if there is anything that requires immediate follow-up.
I would highly encourage the recruitment manager to make calls every day to have a better understanding of the challenges of each study, the length of an average call, and to have a better idea of what to expect from your team. There is no better way to do this than by digging in and doing the work too.
Any final wisdom you would like to share with us?
As I mentioned before, knowing the basics of how clinical trials work is very important. We’ve encountered leads that are scared of clinical trials because they think they are going to be locked in a padded cell for 30 days, and that is not the case. Train your recruiters to be compassionate and patient with the people they are calling. I have sometimes told patients that clinical trials are not a cattle drive, and the process is 100% voluntary. Most people will be at ease after having a better understanding of the process and regulations of clinical trials.
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