The Best Clinical Trial Recruitment Strategies for Fast Results

As a clinical trial sponsor, you don't have time to waste. Running a clinical trial for one day can cost up to $37,000 by some estimations. Delays in new treatments hurt patients waiting for better options, too.

The best clinical trial recruitment strategies today help sponsors reach their goals as quickly as possible by targeting the right patients with diverse outreach methods. The below strategies are designed to efficiently identify eligible patients – and help them take the next step toward enrollment.

Conduct outreach beyond the site level. 

Even with careful site selection and clinical trial recruitment rate calculations, it's still unlikely that sites alone will be able to enroll all of the patients you need from their existing databases. On average, 37% of sites under enroll and 11% fail to enroll a single patient into a trial. For faster results, it's important to launch a diverse patient recruitment approach from the start. This can include working with a patient recruitment company, running digital advertising, connecting with patient advocacy groups, and other efforts.

Try high-intent keyword targeting. 

One approach a clinical trial advertising agency may take to patient recruitment is building campaigns targeting patients who are searching for specific terms related to new treatments or clinical trials. While general keywords related to a condition may be cheaper per click, targeted keyword searches are more likely to come from patients who are actively interested in research or taking part in a clinical trial. Ads that are clear about what they're offering – in other words, not misleading – are also more likely to attract engaged patients. Casting a wide net and warming patients up to the idea of trial participation with an awareness campaign can be effective – but not necessarily when you're in a time crunch. 

Use patient follow-up services. 

While clinical trials are top-of-mind for those running recruitment, for patients, your trial may be just one more email in their inboxes and consideration in their busy lives. Automated follow-up emails or text messages can remind patients to take the next step. Some patient recruitment companies also offer follow-up services at the site level, so you can stay on top of the progress patients are making and flag sites that are slow to respond. This type of follow up can help lower costs by reducing the number of patients who start the process and don't follow through, and save time by proactively reminding patients and sites to take the next step. 

Validate challenging inclusion and exclusion criteria in advance. 

Increasing protocol complexity has made patient recruitment more challenging than ever. Blood test results and other lab values can make finding qualified patients particularly difficult. Consider working with a patient recruitment company that has relationships with EHR vendors, doctors, lab testing companies or other organizations that may have access to specific information patients are unlikely to know themselves. Identifying these patients in advance can save screening time at the site level, and ensure patients are more likely to be qualified for the trial. 

Screen for multiple trials at a time. 

If you're running multiple trials for the same condition area, one way to save time – and money – is to screen for all of the trials at once. This can be done by working with a patient recruitment company that creates online pre-screeners and can direct patients based on their location and responses to questions related to inclusion and exclusion criteria. Unfortunately, when patients are told they don't qualify for a specific clinical trial, they rarely search for a new trial, according to research from CISCRP. Screening for multiple trials at once can help more interested patients connect with research opportunities while speeding up the recruitment process.

An Antidote, we use a diverse approach we call precision recruitment to quickly identify eligible patients and beat timelines. Learn more about how we work in our whitepaper.