Top 5 Takeaways from Clinical Trials in the Age of Social Media

Jun 17, 2015


On Thursday, June 11th, MassBio hosted Clinical Trials in the Age of Social Media: Strategies for Increasing Trial Awareness and Patient Recruitment, part 2 of the 4-part Forum #HarnessHCSM series. A full house heard from a diverse panel of industry leaders.

We’ve compiled a list of key takeaways from the event to keep you up to speed on this hot topic!


Yes, there is a laundry list of rules and regulations when it comes to social media and engaging with patients but Dawn Fenton, Clinical Operations Lead at Biogen, empowered the audience to be bold.

“We can’t be afraid. We can’t let rules and regulations stop us from using social media to reach patients.”

Bottom line: Know the rules and understand them, but don’t let them stop you from putting the patient first and using social media as an avenue to engage patients on a new level.

2) Social listening is key

Social listening was a big buzzword discussed throughout the entirety of the Forum. Panelists urged the audience to listen to patients on social media to help identify gaps in patient education, avoid search for “unicorn subjects” in clinical trials, find patients who can contribute content and serve as a support system for fellow patients, and to help design a strategy for how to engage with patients.

3) There’s more to social media than Facebook and Twitter

When we hear “social media” our minds often jump right to the most popular social media sites. Social media reaches far beyond Facebook and Twitter and it is important to explore other avenues when it comes to patients and clinical trials. Medical social networking sites are quickly gaining traction such as patientslikeme and My MS Team.

4) “Stop being so clinical!”

“Stop being so clinical!” A valuable exclamation from Sally Okun, Vice President for Advocacy, Policy, and Patient Safety at PatientsLikeMe. Use social listening to understand the way patients talk about their experiences and then use those insights to shape your messaging and better connect with patients.

5) Be transparent

Patients don’t like being kept in the dark. Do your best to help patients to understand how important the integrity of the trial is while also disclosing as much as you can to help them feel in the know. Be honest! Patients will appreciate your candor.

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