According to our research, about 10% of respondents to a text blast will respond with some indication of interest. An additional 5% will respond to express lack of interest, or to unsubscribe. Nearly 95% of these responses come within the same day the text blast is sent out.
That means that in one day, a site can pre-qualify 15% of their database for interest level and hone in on the 10% of patients most interested in the trial, leaving 85% of the database for additional outreach. It's by far the most efficient, highest-yield form of outreach.
In this post, I will describe what a text blast is, how we came up with these metrics, and why sites should incorporate text blasts into their patient recruitment strategies.
What is a text blast?
A text blast is a mass text sent to a pre-filtered list of respondents, similar to an email blast. A text message is capped at 160 characters, and often invites a response from the recipient by instructing them to enter a word or set of numbers in response.
Our CRIO recruiting module has built-in text blast capability. The user can simply filter their database based on target criteria (eg, age, indication, medications, etc.); type in a text message, then send the text blast right away, or schedule it for a later date/time.
A sample text message may look like this:
We have a migraine study. You must be 18+ and have a 3 month history. Text YES if you'd like us to call you, NO if not, and STOP to unsubscribe.
This text message is within the character limit (144 characters), simple to read, to the point, with a clear call to action.
Our system will automatically recognize "YES", "NO" and "STOP" responses, and integrate those responses into the recruitment campaign. YES responders are tagged as "Interested", "NO responders as "Not Interested", and "STOP" responders as "DO NOT TEXT". All DO NOT TEXT patients are removed from future text blasts.
Our system will also track text metrics, including how many people were reached, how many responded YES, or some other response, how many responded NO and how many responded STOP.
How do text blasts perform in patient recruitment?
We reviewed a sampling of text blasts performed by sites, and we found that 6-14% of text blast recipients responded with a YES or some other text response (other than NO or STOP), indicating potential interest. On average, we saw a 9.4% positive response rate.
Somewhere between 2-7% responded NO or STOP; the average was 5.0%. Thus, 14.4% responded one way or another.
Furthermore, the vast majority of these responses were immediate. 76% of text responses were within 1 hour of the send; 93% within 4 hours; and 96% by end of next day. That means that a site will get this feedback almost instantaneously.
Response rates can vary even more. For instance, we noticed that a generic "now recruiting for x, y and more indications" type message can earn 15-20% positive response rates.
Conversely, a text message targeted to a specific indication, but not sent to a list pre-filtered for that indication (eg, a study for female UTI to all females 18-60) gets a 1-3% response rate.
How clinical research sites should adopt text blasts in their patient recruitment strategy
Text Blast Best Practices
Text messages are incredibly efficient ways of reaching clinical trial patients. With just a few minutes of work, within one hour, the clinical trial site can surface nearly 10% of their target database that is interested in learning more. By contrast, email blasts often generate a lower percent, usually in the low single digits.
The best strategy is for a research site to send out a text blast at the outset of the enrollment period, on a day when they are appropriately staffed to handle the volume. For instance, if the target list is 500, the site could expect 50 patients to express interest. The site should be prepared to make 50 outbound calls that day. If they can't handle that volume, they are better off splitting up the text blast over several days, or even weeks, to process the volume.
With an early text blast, a site can book patients quickly. This immediately creates a favorable impression with the sponsor and gives the site early experience with the protocol's eligibility process. After the text blast, the site can focus their efforts on the remaining 85% of their database through a calling campaign, a second text blast, an email campaign, or some combination.
As we learn more, we'll update our findings. For instance, we don't know yet what day of the week, or what time of day works best, or what types of messages get higher response rates. As our dataset gets bigger, we'll investigate and publish new text blast best practices.
Bottom line: Text blasts should be part of every site's recruiting toolkit, and native text blast capability is something to look for when shopping for a CTMS system.
Raymond Nomizu is a Harvard-trained lawyer and former clinical trial site owner; during the operation of his site, he realized that there should be a better software solution for clinical trials. This prompted him to co-found Clinical Research IO, whose eSource and CTMS solutions are now considered some of the best in the industry. Read more about us here.