MyDataHelps Designer provides several different ways to enroll participants. This article helps you choose the right one for your project, and describes some enrollment best practices.
Projects often use one of the following models, or a combination thereof, for enrollment:
- Send standard invitations from within MyDataHelps Designer.
- Send custom invitations from a third-party email service.
- Send or post print invitations.
- Enroll participants in a clinical setting using a project-owned iPad.
The following questions can aid you in selecting which model(s) are best-suited for your project.
Do your prospective participants already know about the project?
MyDataHelps Designer's built-in invitations are best when the prospective participants are already aware of the project and are expecting the invitation. Otherwise, an email from MyDataHelps Designer might be met with suspicion and/or confusion.
Using a customized invitation from a third-party email service allows you to provide additional context about your project to prospective participants. The email can also contain additional information, such as:
- Details about your project, including benefits and incentives for joining.
- Instructions for downloading MyDataHelps.
- Your project-specific QR code, which they can scan in MyDataHelps.
- Their personal participant identifier (or instructions on how to obtain it) if you are using identifier validation.
You can even set up the email to come from your institution's own email address, so participants will recognize the message as coming from a trusted source. Some services also provide open and click-through metrics, which can aid you in evaluating the effectiveness of your enrollment campaign.
What if you do not have email addresses for your participants?
If you do not have email contact information for your prospective participants, you use a project-specific QR code in a print flyer. Such a flyer could be mailed to individuals (for closed enrollment) or posted in a public place (for open enrollment).
Using a QR code for enrollment is also useful if you want to allow the participant sign up with a different email than the one you have on file.
What if your prospective participants don’t have access to a smartphone or computer during enrollment?
If participants are enrolling in a clinical setting (e.g., before surgery), or do not have access to a device that can run MyDataHelps, you can use a clinic iPad to enroll them using MyDataHelps Designer's shared device mode.
Do you wish to save custom fields for prospective participants?
If you are using custom fields, those fields can be included in the Comma-Separated Value (CSV) data when you use MyDataHelps Designer's standard invitations.
Are you using participant identifiers to limit enrollment?
If your project has closed enrollment, you can require identifier validation to ensure that only approved participants are able to enroll. Use MyDataHelps Designer's standard invitations to set up the list of approved participants. You may specify your own project-specific participant identifier for each person, or allow MyDataHelps Designer to auto-generate one.
Either way, you will need to communicate this identifier to the individual participant (in a customized email, print flyer, or in a clinical setting) so they can enter it when enrolling with MyDataHelps.
This section provides a few examples of how MyDataHelps Designer projects have handled enrollment differently.
Medical School Graduate Study
Researchers are recruiting recent medical school graduates. Although the team has contact emails for the graduates through their medical schools, they realize that some graduates may not retain access to those emails after graduation. They send out custom invitations containing the project's QR code. Graduates can then decide whether to enroll in MyDataHelps using their school, work, or personal email.
Precision Medicine App
Physicians at a clinic are recruiting patients for a precision medicine application. They invite interested patients during their clinic visits. Those with smartphones or computers at home are sent a standard MyDataHelps Designer invitation via email. Those without are enrolled at the clinic using shared device mode.
University researchers are recruiting patients for a genomic study. They have a list with thousands of prospective participant email addresses. Using their university email system, they send out custom invitations at two-week intervals, changing content and incentives slightly with each iteration.
Follow-Up Enrollment Campaigns
Sending out invitations is only the first step in a successful enrollment campaign. You can use either a third-part email service or MyDataHelps Designer's built-in notification system to follow-up periodically.
We recommend a follow-up notification at most once a week, ideally mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday).
If you used MyDataHelps Designer's built-in invitation system, you can create a participant segment based on enrollment status and target follow-ups to those who have not already enrolled. If you are using a third-party service, you would have to manually manage your participant list to distinguish between those who have enrolled and those who have not.
Offering incentives is a good way to improve your enrollment conversion. Incentives can be both monetary and non-monetary. Here are a few examples of how existing projects have used incentives:
- Custom dashboards to let the participant leverage their own data and take charge of their health. For example, one project created a participant dashboard to show the correlation between sleep, steps, and mood.
- Unique benefits related to the data being studied. For example, one genomics study offered free ancestry reports.
- Gift cards to online retailers. For example, one project offered gift cards for reaching certain survey goals.