Connecting for success: The power of purposeful participant engagement

sano doctor discussion

This webinar, featuring Sano Genetics team members Ross Rounsevell and George Bowley, highlights the importance of purposeful participant engagement in research studies. The discussion centres around meaningful research participant engagement, its significance in research, strategies for effective engagement, and the future developments enabling better study design. 

The link to the full webinar is here; a brief summary is below for easy reference.

About the speakers

Ross Rounsevell is an experienced business development manager with a background in biophysics and biochemistry who focuses on driving novel technologies and products for the biotech sector. As the Research Partnerships Lead at Sano, Ross has been instrumental in developing software tools to enhance researcher-participant relationships, leading to more insightful research outcomes. His previous roles include positions at Bloc Labs, Repositive, and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, where he made significant contributions to accelerating biomedical research through innovative platforms and strategic partnerships. Ross holds a PhD in Biophysics from the University of Cambridge.

George Bowley is an Account Executive at Sano Genetics, where he plays a pivotal role in enabling precision medicine research, focusing on patient finding, engagement, and testing in population genomics and pharmaceutical research programs. George’s previous positions include roles at Source BioScience and the University of Sheffield. George holds a PhD in Cardiovascular Disease from the University of Sheffield.

Highlights from the webinar

What is purposeful participant engagement?

George and Ross discuss how purposeful participant engagement goes beyond simply sending out emails to research participants; it involves thoughtfully planning how to interact with participants in the short, medium, and long term. The goal is to build a relationship with participants and to regularly communicate with them, ensuring that the information shared is relevant and valuable to them. Engagement should be tailored to the needs and preferences of the audience, avoiding overly complex language and instead focusing on straightforward concepts that participants can easily grasp.

Getting participant engagement wrong can have significant repercussions for both patients and researchers. For example, Ross notes that sharing irrelevant information, making communication too complicated, or failing to communicate at all are common mistakes that can lead to disengagement. When participants feel disconnected from the research, they may lose interest and drop out of the study, leading to attrition and skewed results. Additionally, failing to engage participants effectively deprives researchers of the opportunity to course-correct and gather valuable insights from participant feedback.

What are the best strategies to drive participant engagement?

Ross states that building a successful participant engagement strategy begins with front-loading interactions early in the research process. Researchers should communicate gratitude for participants' contributions and commit to providing regular updates on the study's progress. Engagement strategies don't always require frequent communications; rather, they should be consistent and tailored to the audience's needs. For smaller studies or less experienced researchers, seeking help from specialised organisations or external companies can simplify the process and enhance engagement efforts. Patient advocacy groups are also advocating for meaningful engagement with research participants, emphasising the importance of arrangements where value is passed back to participants for their contributions.

In recent years, advances in technology have significantly impacted participant engagement. Purpose-built solutions – like Sano’s – have democratised participant engagement, making it accessible to researchers of all levels. These off-the-shelf solutions streamline engagement efforts, reducing the burden on researchers and allowing them to focus on their core research objectives. Such technologies also improve the participant experience, leading to better data collection and increased participation rates.


Purposeful participant engagement can be transformative for research studies, improving the way researchers interact with participants and collect data. By investing in off-the-shelf engagement solutions, researchers can simplify the engagement process, improve participant experience, and achieve more impactful research outcomes. As the field continues to evolve, purposeful participant engagement promises to shape the future of medical research, fostering collaboration between researchers and participants and driving scientific advancements that benefit us all.

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