Why empathy in digital patient recruitment is vital

Maybe it seems obvious that making advertising emotionally relatable captures the audience’s attention and influences their decisions, but understanding the exact emotions is important too. You have to provide a sense of motivation, so that people take your desired action. In this case, that’s getting patients to find out more about your clinical trial.

To engage with patients, create effective patient facing recruitment materials and build better experiences, you need to put patients at the heart of your strategy. Talking about it is easy. How can you make a start with action? Well, this is where empathy mapping can be incredibly effective.

Empathy is the awareness and understanding of other people’s feelings. It is a key element of emotional intelligence, providing the link between the self and others. It is how you can understand what patients are experiencing, as if you were feeling it yourself. What does this mean in the context of digital patient recruitment? It means you have a full understanding of the patient journey. You use their insights rather than assumptions.

There are three types of empathy, which can all be applied to your digital patient recruitment materials:


1. Cognitive empathy

This the ability to understand how a patient feels and what they might be thinking. Cognitive empathy can help you to communicate better, by providing information in a way that best connects with patients.


2. Emotional empathy

The ability to share the feelings of another person. This type of empathy helps you build emotional connections with patients.


3. Compassionate empathy

This goes a step further from understanding. This type of empathy encourages you to take action, by creating content and improving the patient experience.

At every touchpoint in your digital patient recruitment plan, you can craft activities with patients in mind. The tone, tools, and timing of recruitment can all impact on someone’s willingness to participate, regardless of why they are motivated to take part. Rather than assuming what patients want to know, we can use evidence-based approaches to provide the right information and FAQs. The same applies to how they want to receive information.


Empathy as a mechanism to improving diversity in clinical trials

And of course, you have to consider diversity in clinical trials. How could you possibly successfully engage with large numbers of people from a minority background without using an empathetic approach? If you ignore how people feel, whether it’s about research, pharma, or their condition, you are setting yourself up for a very challenging path to recruiting them to your trial. With empathy, you can uncover new ways to reach the disengaged. New ways to connect with your patient population. And new ways to keep your trial on track to meet your targets.

Bringing empathy into your digital patient recruitment efforts could look, very simply, a little something like this:

  • Reach patients both online and offline
  • Form partnerships with patients
  • Listen to their point of view
  • Define your patient personas
  • Map the patient journey
  • Apply your findings
  • Create content that immerses patients in an empathetic experience
  • See recruitment rates increase

Here at COUCH Health, this is what we do best. We pride ourselves on forming trusted relationships with patients and keeping them, and their feelings, thoughts and opinions, at the heart of everything we do. Keen to find out more? Get in touch with us today.

Diversity in Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment

Louise Kelly

Louise offers diverse experience, working in medical trials for the NHS, creative marketing, and medical writing for pharmaceutical companies. As a result, she’s perfectly placed to make sure our communications reach and engage every patient, whatever their needs.

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