You remember the TV plotline. The one where, in a desperate attempt to earn some money, a character volunteers for a medical trial in exchange for some cash, usually ending in a wildly comedic scenario. But in the real world, medical research isn’t a punchline, and, just like any researcher, doctors and scientists who do clinical studies struggle with participation.
Incentivizing patients to join clinical studies, like those TV characters, is a tried-and-true way to increase your numbers, especially when you need participants who have very specific conditions or characteristics. The challenge is that medical researchers have the extra burden of meeting strict privacy policies, since they are collecting sensitive personal information.
Here are three things to keep in mind as you set up incentives management for your next clinical study.
Clinical researchers are often working with grant money or government funds, which could require more reporting on expenditures. Keeping track of incentives on a spreadsheet as you hand out $20 bills probably isn’t the best plan — too much room for error. When you use an incentives management platform, not only can you offer a wide range of compelling digital rewards to attract participants, you can also keep all your reporting in one place. A tool like BHN Rewards makes it easy to see where every incentive went, who claimed it, and how much each person has earned, all at the click of a button.
READ MORE: 3 Tips for Effective Incentives Management
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that protects patients’ sensitive medical information from being shared or released without their consent. Researchers are responsible for keeping that information secure, of course, but so are any third-party partners they work with — including rewards providers. When looking for an incentives management solution, you may need to add a business associate agreement (BAA) to any service contracts. With any software product, you also have to make sure the company providing that software is as committed to security as you are. Data breaches are becoming more and more common, so you should be confident in the tools you’re using. Look for acronyms like SOC 2, which means the company has gone through an extensive auditing procedure to ensure security, and GDPR, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, one of the strictest privacy laws in the world.
Depending on the nature of your clinical study and the type of information you’re collecting, you may need to keep participants anonymous. It might seem difficult to do that while also offering incentives, since you need an address or email to know where to send a reward. But the right tools can help you. Find an incentives management platform that supports decoupling, which redirects respondents at the end of a survey to collect the email address for reward delivery. That separates the incentive from the data in the survey response. A tool like BHN Rewards can also support data masking, which hides information so you can still track your incentives without compromising recipients’ identities.
There are lots of ways to manage incentives for your medical research, but it’s hard to make sure you’re complying with all the particular requirements and regulations that apply to clinical studies. (And if you’re still passing around spreadsheets, you probably aren’t!) Using a secure, compliant incentives management tool with robust tracking and reporting capabilities will not only protect you, your recipients, and the sponsor of your research, it will also streamline the process to help you get more participation, collect better data, and make medical advances faster.
Are you a clinical researcher working for a university and also subject to IRB requirements? Download our compliance checklist now!