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Social Media: Valuable Tool in Clinical Research

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Published - 01.Mar.2016
Social Media Valuable Tool in Clinical Research

In our fast developing world pretty much all kinds of advancements depend on the symbiosis between people and technology. Using computers and other electronic devices has become so fundamental that without them any type of innovation or progress turns out to be unimaginable, not to say impossible. Technology opens many doors and provides with innumerable sources of valuable information. But to learn about something and to gain knowledge about one subject or another in order to improve the current status of industries demands immediacy. Especially when we talk about healthcare and the Clinical, Medical and Pharmaceutical sector. In its attempt to boost productivity, to optimize clinical procedures, and to succeed, healthcare is trying to adopt as many contemporary approaches as possible. As a result, the Internet and especially social networks are established not only as the new trend-setters but also as the most cherished tools which many companies employ worldwide.

Initially, the correlation between websites such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and clinical research may not appear to be so obvious. The compatibility between them seems to be somehow vague or carried away between the lines. It might be because the nature of them is envisioned as being separated into two polarities – the formal ones being linked to leisure, business, and, most of all, fun, while studies signify something more serious. When we think about the social sites listed above, we think of friends, exchange of experience, sharing events, and even looking for job opportunities or business growth. When we hear the word clinical trial, we automatically think of improving healthcare and other big-size global goals. But what will happen when we merge social networks and research? What will that lead us to?

Social Medial in Clinical Research

Undoubtedly social media has grown to become a highly demanded instrument for clinical trials. Just like in all industry-related domains, it can have a crucial part in relation to the planning, organization, performance and optimization of clinical research processes. Moreover, researchers notice a tremendous increase in terms of engagement with such platforms which results in trials becoming more and more socially-oriented and dependent on publicity for a variety of reasons. For example, increasing enrolment in research is a priority for stakeholders. However, recruiting and retaining patients is one of the trickiest, lengthiest and most resource-consuming parts of a trial. According to CEI, up to 30% of subjects decide to withdraw before the end of the research, with leaves researchers with major losses (not only financial but in terms of progress too). Knowing that finding volunteers is such a big challenge, experts try to work out alternative methods. Today, patients rely on the Internet to dig up information and find out more about developments or possible chances to participate in trials appropriate for them. Realizing this, researchers and recruiters reach out to social media where people can be found to actively exchange information and participate in discussions.

Social media, then, becomes a two-way medium that channels advantages to both sides. On the one hand, the general public can benefit from such websites by discovering real-time information about current practices, ethical standards, criteria for participation, development of trials, their phases, outcomes and so on.  On the other hand, researchers can take advantage by looking for potential patients among these online-built communities. Study sponsors are enabled to find eligible human subjects to take part in their study at a much lower cost and even much more quickly. What is more, they can even define the health profile of would-be trial participants. All in all, both sides can understand what is happening right here, right now within and outside a trial.

To sum up, despite the fact that clinical trials may not automatically be linked to social media, both of them are involved in an interchangeable game. That game is beneficial to researchers and social media users on the whole in many ways. For instance, while the audience is enabled to search for a range of specifics regarding an on-going or soon-to-be-performed trial, experts are introduced to a pool of potential patients. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, then, turn out to be highly valuable mechanisms before, during and after clinical trials.

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