5 Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment Services to Consider

Clinical trial patient recruitment services can help your company or research site reach your patient enrollment goals. Recruitment companies tend to use a few different services, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks to factor in when you're making your decision. Consider these five service options for help finding the company that has the offerings you are most interested in.

Digital advertising

Pros: Digital advertising is no longer just a way to reach young, tech-savvy patients. Today, 88% of Americans use the internet. Facebook is the most popular digital advertising platform, with 2 billion monthly active users.

Cons: According to CISCRP surveys, patients would prefer to hear about clinical trial opportunities from their doctors than from online ads. That creates a challenge for digital advertisers who have to create a sense of trust through their messaging. If you're considering working with a company that specializes in digital advertising, ask them to provide examples of their outreach materials and case studies about their recruitment success.

Patient database

Pros: Some recruitment companies offer access to a database of patients who have expressed interest in clinical trial participation. The level of detail about each patient varies from agency to agency, but you'll typically know basic demographic details such as the patient's age, gender, and diagnosis.

Cons: When it comes to patient databases, it matters where patients come from. Just because a patient is in a database doesn't mean they are seriously interested in clinical trial participation, which is a must for them to be responsive to your trial opportunities. Antidote's tool for research sites, Base, allows you to connect with patients who have actively searched for clinical trials through search engines on more than 270 partner websites.

EHR matching

Pros: Thanks to government incentives, 60% of all U.S. office-based physicians have shown "meaningful use" of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in their practices. EHR matching for clinical trial recruitment allows companies to target patients with specific eligibility criteria, based on their health records. Patients prefer to hear about trial opportunities from their doctors, rather than from ads, making EHR matching an even more powerful tool for reaching patients.

Cons: Today, EHR technology isn't standardized, so data can be tricky to deal with. Every EHR vendor has its own system that may collect information organized in a different way, making integrations difficult. While this method is promising, the technology may not be there yet for some trials and patient populations.


Pros: Recruitment companies can work with a range of partners to help sponsors and sites reach their enrollment goals. Partners can include nonprofit organizations, patient advocates, hospitals, and other technology companies that work with clinical research. Clinical trial recruitment is rarely easy, but patients introduced to a study through a partner are often more engaged than a patient who registers through digital advertising. This is because patients have a warmer, more trusting relationship with these types of health organizations. Partnerships can also open the door to in-person events such as health fairs and charity races where companies can have a presence.

Cons: A partnership is only as valuable as the time and responses you put into it. If you're considering working with a recruitment company that has relationships with partners, ask them how they work together.

Non-digital advertising

Pros: Non-digital advertising can include radio ads, flyers, ads on billboards, and commercials. For example, if a recruitment company is working with doctor's offices to promote a trial, they may create flyers to share with local practices.

Cons: The return-on-investment for non-digital advertising tends to be more difficult to measure. It can also be tricky to encourage patients to take the next step, whether it's calling a particular number or visiting a website.

At Antidote, we use a variety of approaches, along with our network of 270+ health nonprofit and patient advocacy partners, to connect patients with research. Download our case studies to learn more.