5 common clinical trial patient recruitment problems (and how to fix them)

When conducting medical research, recruiting patients can be one of the most difficult processes. Reaching the right patients and engaging them with a study poses a pervasive challenge. Fortunately, there are strategies to overcome these difficulties and keep a study’s timeline on track.

Fixing common clinical trial patient recruitment problems

Problem: Patients aren't passing the pre-screener.

If unqualified patients are interacting with outreach materials, it is worth considering which specific qualifications are causing them to be ineligible. Problems with age, location, and other demographics are easy to adjust in ad targeting, but there may be other ways to update audiences to reach more promising audiences. On Facebook especially, there are many options to fine-tune an ad audience that can be useful, especially when considering the interests and online activity that might be specific to a patient population.

Problem: Reaching qualified patients is expensive.

When dealing with high acquisition costs, it can be useful to cast a wider net. For example, if sites are located in low-population areas, it may be wise to expand geographic targeting, as people in rural areas may be more apt to travel further. Additionally, working with community groups and nonprofit organizations can be a great way to get highly targeted outreach that can produce fantastic ROI.

Problem: Ad engagement is persistently low.

If ads aren’t bringing in many potential participants, it may be helpful to consider the same steps recommended for lowering costs. In addition to that, it may be helpful to use additional platforms such as Google AdWords, which can advertise to users who are specifically searching for keywords related to a trial. It also may be helpful to consider the design of the ads and test variations of images and copy that may be more eye-catching.

Problem: Patients are filling out your prescreener but aren’t responsive to follow up.

There are many reasons why patients may turn unresponsive after filling out a prescreener, most of which involve contact preferences. For example, younger patient populations may be less likely to respond to an unexpected phone call, but will be highly responsive to texts or emails. It can also be helpful to provide patients with the opportunity to add the call center to their contact list or allow them to schedule a time to be contacted for phone validation so they can be prepared with the information needed to complete the next steps.

Problem: Patients are passing screening but not enrolling in the trial.

Opting to join a clinical trial is a big decision, and patients may be hesitant to take the final steps towards enrollment — especially if there are issues with the study design that cause undue burden on participants. During outreach, it can be helpful to present more information about the study up front, highlighting the benefits of participating in research as well as being clear about the number of site visits, travel reimbursements, and more.

Whether you're looking for help rescuing an existing clinical trial patient recruitment campaign, or you're ready to launch a new one, Antidote is here to support you. Download our case studies and get in touch to learn more about how we help accelerate research.