15 Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment Companies (And How to Choose One)

Clinical trial patient recruitment companies use a range of methods, from digital advertising to community partnerships, to find the right patients for your trial. Depending on your trial’s needs, you may want to choose a company with a particular specialty in a therapeutic area or patient population. You may also be interested in finding a company that offers additional services, such as developing your prescreener or helping you identify the best site locations for your study.

When choosing a clinical trial recruitment company, consider each company’s offerings as well as experience in your therapeutic area. We’ve included additional questions we recommend asking at the bottom of the below list, as well as a primer on how recruitment companies connect with patients in the first place.

These 15 clinical trial recruitment companies are the most prominent in the space. See which one might be the best fit for your next trial.

Download our free clinical trial recruitment plan template.

1. Acurian

With 20 years of experience in the space, Acurian has developed predictive enrollment models to inform recruitment decisions. The company also uses patient advisory boards and surveys to get feedback on marketing materials.

2. Antidote

Antidote works with more than 270 leading health nonprofits and patient advocates to connect sponsors and research sites with informed, engaged patients interested in clinical trial participation. The company's latest offering, Base, is a self-service platform designed just for research sites. 

3. AutoCruitment

This company uses 400 digital channels to reach out to patients searching for medical information online. The company also advertises its speed, letting potential clients know they have only a five business day set-up time.

4. BBK Worldwide

BBK Worldwide has more than 30 years of experience in patient recruitment and offers white papers and ebooks to share insights from their years of experience.

5. Clariness

Clariness has an international focus. The company has enrolled patients in more than 800 trials in 30 countries.

6. ClinicalConnection

In addition to working with a database of patients, ClinicalConnection can also feature your study center on their website as a way to reach patients searching for trials on their website.

7. CSSi

The company specializes in connecting with local patient organizations as part of its enrollment efforts.

8. ePatientFinder

This company gives both physicians and sponsor clients the opportunity to connect patients with trials directly through EHR integration.

9. MMG

Another company with a few decades of experience, MMG positions itself as global recruitment strategists. The company emphasizes their strategy support offerings.

10. Praxis

Praxis offers a range of service options that customers can pick and choose from, including digital advertising as well as community outreach.

11. SubjectWell

Rather than reaching out to patients about specific trials through advertising, SubjectWell aims to build a database of patients interested in participating in clinical trials.

12. StudyKik

Potential participants sign up for Studykik after seeing ads on Facebook and other platforms, then receive an alert when a trial fits their profile.

13. ThreeWire

ThreeWire specializes in recruitment for therapies as well as for medical device trials. The company also offers performance-based pricing.

14. Trialspark

In addition to offering patient recruitment, Trialspark also runs trials at their own sites.

15. TrialX

In addition to patient recruitment services, this company also creates mobile apps  for trials.

What to consider before choosing a clinical trial recruitment company:

Do I need help choosing site locations for my trial?

If you haven’t yet settled on the site locations for your trial, consider working with a company that can help you with this part of the process as well. Some companies use data they’ve collected from previous trials to help you identify locations that might be particularly difficult to recruit in.

Are you looking for help at the beginning of your trial, or for “rescue” support?

Companies sometimes specialize in support for different aspects of a trial. If your trial has been running for a while and struggled with recruitment, a company that advertises speed and efficiency may be your best choice. If you’re at the beginning of your trial and you’re looking for more strategic guidance for the full breadth of the trial, a different company that specializes in planning may be the right option.

What kind of budget model are you looking for?

Clinical trial recruitment companies offer a range of budgeting options, including pay for performance and flat fee. Consider your trial’s budget per randomized, consented, or validated patient, and include your pricing considerations in your conversation with prospective vendors.

Does the company have an in-house marketing team?

Working with a company that has an experienced, in-house marketing team can help your online advertisements stand out in crowded Facebook newsfeed and other ad spots. Ask companies you interview whether they work with an outside agency when developing outreach materials, or if they have their own team. Before deciding to work with a vendor, consider taking a look at advertising materials the company has found success with in the past to ensure their style fits with what you’re looking for.

Has this company worked with my therapeutic area before?

Ask the company for case studies or other information on trials they’ve run in your trial’s therapeutic area, or a related area. Companies that have already recruited for similar trials often have a good sense of what techniques do and don’t work for a given condition. Of course, differences in inclusion/exclusion criteria as well as the location of the trial make a difference for recruitment challenges, too.

Has this company worked on international trials before?

If your trial has sites in multiple countries, you may want to ensure that the company you work with has international experience. The company should be accustomed to creating translated materials and using the best ad targeting methods for non-U.S. patients.

What happens to patients who aren’t eligible for one of my trials, but who might be eligible for other trials in my portfolio?

Some companies have a database of patients who have expressed interest in clinical trials, and recruit from that database. Antidote, for example, offers the ability to match our database of patients against your entire portfolio of patients so interested participants don’t slip through the cracks.

How quickly can this company develop materials and a recruitment strategy?

Some companies include their recruitment speed as part of their value proposition to potential customers. If you’re on a tight schedule, like many sponsors and sites are, ask potential vendors for a rough outline of their timeline for creating materials and submitting them to your IRB.

How will patients be screened?

When making your decision, consider whether you would like your recruitment vendor to also handle patient phone screening. Some companies will also create and host a pre-screener for your trial, as well. Consider which elements of your trial will be useful to outsource, and which your team prefers to conduct in-house.

How has the company iterated in the past when recruitment isn’t going well?

Clinical trial recruitment is notoriously challenging, and roadblocks are common. Ask the potential vendor about how they’ve handled challenges in the past and different approaches they’ve tried when recruitment isn’t going well.

Am I looking for additional services such as patient retention?

After a patient has been enrolled in your trial, retention is an important piece, as well. Some companies offer additional services to help your trial continue running on schedule, even after your recruitment goals have been met.

What kind of reporting do you want to receive from the company?

As you’re talking with your potential vendor, ask how often they typically update clients on how recruitment is going and any other metrics you’re interested in. You can ask to see a sample report or find out what metrics the company typically shares with clients.

When talking with clinical trial recruitment companies, discuss your reporting needs, too.

What is the company’s relationship with patients?

Patient centricity begins with trial design and remains important throughout a trial. You can incorporate the concept of keeping the patient at the center in recruitment activities, as well. Ask potential vendors whether they receive feedback from patients on advertising campaigns or other elements of their business. Patient-centered clinical trial recruitment materials, for example, should be clear, readable, and share information about the trial that will help patients make the decision of whether or not to join.

How does the company recruit a diverse patient population?

Diversity in clinical trial recruitment is another important consideration for many trial sponsors. Talk with potential vendors about strategies they’ve used in the past for enrolling a diverse patient population. This piece is particularly important if the therapeutic area for your trial disproportionately affects a certain patient population.

How does the company find patients to participate?

Though there are a few approaches that most recruitment vendors take (see below), you may have a preference for how a company acquires patients based on past experience or the therapeutic area you’re working with. For example, if you’re working on a trial for a rare disease, you may prefer to work with a company that has a partnership with a nonprofit associated with that condition. In general, companies use a range of techniques when working to find the right patients for your trial. When evaluating a company, ask questions about what approaches they have found most effective.

How do clinical trial recruitment companies find patients?

Digital advertising: Many companies use ad platforms such as Facebook to target specific interests related to a study’s inclusion criteria. Companies may also use tools like Google AdWords to capture potential participants who are searching for clinical trials, as well as banner ad placements, which are targeted based on the websites that potential patients visit.

Traditional advertising: Non-digital ad placements can include newspaper ads, radio ads, billboards, and print materials distributed at doctor’s offices.

Patient databases: Some clinical trial recruitment companies create databases of patients who are interested in clinical trials, and sign up to receive alerts when a trial in their area matches their profile. Companies that have an active database may offer a lower cost-per-patient than companies that conduct patient outreach from scratch.

Partnerships: A clinical trial company may have relationships with health nonprofits and community groups associated with a particular condition. Nonprofits may have a large email list of patients they can reach out to with clinical trial opportunities, for example. When patients hear about a trial from a source they already trust, they may be more willing to participate.

Electronic Health Record (EHR) matching: Some companies offer software that integrates with EHRs, allowing physicians to easily connect patients with clinical trial opportunities. Because it’s important for patients to talk to their doctors before deciding to join a clinical trial, it can be helpful for your study if a patient already heard about the opportunity from their doctor directly.

Community events: Particularly if you’re working with a company that has partnerships with nonprofits and community organizations, the vendor you work with may attend local health fairs or other events and promote your trial there. A representative may bring flyers, pamphlets, and other print materials to the event.

Learn about how Antidote has helped sponsors connect with our community of patients by downloading our case studies.