A Guide To Clinical Trial Recruitment

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Clinical trial patient recruitment is crucial to success. However, organizations often wait too long to plan a clinical trial recruitment strategy. While clinical trial advertising is easier than ever online, ads represent just one plank in a complete clinical trial marketing strategy.

Since there are so many types of clinical studies, administrators can’t rely on patient enthusiasm to reach their recruitment goals. Budgets are often tight, too, limiting the amount of direct compensation available.

Luckily, there are lessons in clinical trial recruitment that apply to virtually all studies.

Proven Methods for In-House Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment

Done right, many low-cost clinical trial marketing techniques have high ROI. They work hand in hand with paid media buys and other clinical trial advertising in the digital age. A multi-pronged strategy adopted early is more likely to prove effective than sticking with a single technique.

Let’s review some of the best patient recruitment tactics:

Share Trial Information with Local Healthcare Providers

Of all potential sources for information on clinical trials, patients surveyed named their doctor’s office as #1 by a wide margin: 73%. On the other hand, clinical trial advertising can fall flat on TV, print, radio, and even online (21% showed interest) and when associated with a drug company (22% showed interest).

Reach Out to Nonprofits and Patient Advocates

Patients involved in the community surrounding their condition are more likely to understand the value of clinical trials. Connecting with nonprofits that affect them is a great way to ensure they will be informed about the opportunities you offer. Such partnerships are often free.

Tailor Digital Outreach to Your Patients

Banners aren’t the only form of clinical trial advertising that works online. You can connect with patients and build rapport by promoting your trial on social media. Twitter allows you to engage in conversation with prospective participants, while Facebook enables targeted, personalized ads.

Target Patients Who Meet Inclusion Criteria

Reaching out to patients who don’t fit your criteria costs you in time and money. Consider working with mid-market partners, like testing laboratories and EHR companies, whose data permits them to identify patients that meet your criteria.

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Need Superior Results? Consider a Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment Company

Clinical trial patient recruitment companies connect with patients, qualify them, and convert those who meet requirements. Most such firms have well-established ties to healthcare providers and the community.

A good clinical trial recruitment company can accelerate your efforts by leveraging its own network of nonprofit partnerships. Some offer boutique services such as lab-verified referrals and targeted outreach.

Before choosing a company, ask these key questions:

  • Do you need advice on choosing the site for your trial?
  • Do you need help at the start of your trial or “rescue” support?
  • What kind of budget do you have available?
  • Has the company worked with your therapeutic area?
  • How does the company find patients to participate?
  • How will patients be screened?

The best recruitment partner will have a proven record of results for trials in your therapeutic area and phase. The company should also have a strong network that facilitates connection with local patients and a clear process for screening them.

Common Clinical Trial Recruitment Problems and Solutions

Clinical trial patient recruitment can sometimes feel like finding a needle in a haystack. If you run into what feels like an insurmountable problem, its essential to know how to pivot your clinical trial marketing:

Ineligible Patient Referrals

If you spend too much time with ineligible patients, diversify your outreach portfolio. Factors outside your control, like poor data hygiene or competition for patients, can cut into results. Lab and provider partnerships can prequalify more applicants. This also makes research sites perform better.

Patients Situated Too Far from Sites

First, check the targeting of your current clinical trial advertising to see if you can narrow the geography to a smaller radius around your sites. Consider travel services or rideshare partnerships to help patients make their appointments, especially in cases where symptoms interfere with travel ability.

Patients Become Unresponsive

If your recruitment pipeline is leaking before patients reach your sites, there’s likely a follow-up or data accuracy problem. Double-check that your emails and phone messages are getting through. Consider integrating text messaging into your campaign: It can be automated and has a high response rate.

Outreach Isn’t “Connecting”

If outreach simply isn’t working, it’s crucial to walk through your messaging, step by step, at each patient touchpoint. Although many patients are motivated by altruism, you may need to address barriers to entry (in terms of convenience or travel) or reassess your compensation strategy.

Clinical trial marketing takes work, but the results are worth it. By developing a strategy and following through, you help to ensure the efforts of your researchers and patients can move the needle on the future of care.

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