5 metrics that clinical trial patient recruitment companies track

Whether you're running patient recruitment yourself or working with a clinical trial patient recruitment company, there are certain metrics you can track to ensure your campaign is running effectively.

If you're working with a recruitment company, it’s critical to collaborate and align on metrics and reporting that work for all parties. Be on the lookout for any significant jumps from week to week, and don't hesitate to ask questions if you're concerned about a certain number. Knowledge is power when it comes to clinical trial patient recruitment metrics.

We unpack a few of the most commonly measured metrics, and what they mean for your clinical trial recruitment campaigns.

The cost per qualified patient

If you're using a pre-screener to capture patient information and eligibility, cost per qualified patient is one of the first metrics you can begin tracking once your study launches. Though you don't know at this stage whether these eligible patients will eventually join the trial, it's valuable to start calculating this cost information as soon as you can. These numbers will help you start to decide which ads and placements are performing best – though this may change once your trial gets its first consent.

"Cost per qualified patient is the first indication that outreach tactics are effective, and signals what the rest of the funnel must look like for the trial to be an economic success,” said David Tindell, Director of Digital Marketing at Antidote. "This metric is also less subject to trial design than lower-funnel metrics, which means recruiters can use this metric from past campaigns to help plan future recruitment campaigns in similar therapeutic areas.”

You'll also start to see which of your ads and placements are bringing in the most eligible patients. Calculate your cost per acquisition by channel, such as Facebook, Google Ads, etc., so you can start to see which of your outreach channels might be the most efficient at finding the right patients for your study.

Cost per conversion of a patient who consented into your trial

Once your campaign has yielded its first consent into the trial, you can calculate the cost per conversion of a patient who has officially joined your trial. If a few weeks – or months – have passed since you launched your campaign, this number could seem quite high at first. If your campaign continues to perform well, that number will get lower as more patients consent to your trial. That's why it's key to also track the next metric on our list.

Average time between pre-screening and consent into your trial

It's also important to keep track of how long it tends to take patients to move from pre-screening to consent, and from consent to randomization. “When you track each stage of patient enrollment, you'll have a better sense of how healthy your patient pipeline looks,” said Tindell. You can also calculate your conversion rate from eligible pre-screener completion, to booked screening at the study site, and finally to consent into your trial. “Choosing to participate in a clinical trial is a big decision, and it often takes several weeks between pre-screener completion to consent into a trial. The more detailed you can get about conversion rates and costs related to intermediary steps, the clearer idea you'll have about the health of your campaign,” Tindell emphasized.

The most common reason non-eligible patients don’t pass pre-screeners

Keep track of why patients do not pass your pre-screener, phone validation, or in-person screening. If they're not the right age, don't have the condition you're looking for, or don't fit because of another demographic factor, adjusting your ad targeting may help. If your ad copy options speak to different eligibility criteria, switching out copy and testing something new can help reduce ineligibility, too. This kind of information is also helpful if you or your recruitment company run trials in that condition area again.

If patients make it through the screening process but choose not to participate, it may be because they're not getting the information they need upfront. "If eligible patients are refusing to participate, that could mean the materials being used to promote the clinical trial aren’t clearly describing the trial requirements,” said Tindell.


When tracking your campaign's metrics, it's also helpful to have a sense of where your campaign fits in with your industry and the success of past campaigns. While every patient population is different, having a general sense of how content that's similar to yours performs on Facebook, for example, can help you get a sense of how your campaign is going as a whole.

According to Wordstream data from 2020, the average click-through rate (CTR) for a healthcare ad on Facebook is just 0.83%, and the average cost per click (CPC) for a healthcare ad on Facebook is around $1.32. If you've run many different campaigns, you can also compare the data against each other. If costs are running particularly high, or CTRs are even lower than usual, consider switching in different ad copy and image options or adjusting your targeting.

It can be more difficult to determine benchmarks for your more clinical research-specific metrics. Your past experience will serve you best here. If you're working with an agency, ask them about the average time to consent to a trial and other metrics that they've found in their experience, particularly if they've run trials in your condition area before. This is one of the reasons working with an experienced clinical trial patient recruitment company can be a benefit.

Antidote helps sponsors find the right patients for their trials through our partner network of 300+ partners as well as through advanced digital marketing strategies and tools. Learn more about how we can help your trial.