What is the patient recruitment process for clinical trials?

Successful clinical trial patient recruitment is a multi-step process that is worth taking the time to thoroughly understand. Clinical trial recruitment companies often make mention of thorough research, rigorous testing, and continuous optimization — but what does that mean in practical terms?

Below, we have outlined the steps we go through when executing a clinical trial patient recruitment strategy, ranging from understanding patient demographics to finalizing and submitting an IRB packet. Here’s our step-by-step method:

Step 1: Researching the patient population

Getting to know the patients a sponsor intends to target is vital to a successful recruitment campaign. To begin, we’ll look into the basic demographics of your patient population, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, and any other relevant insights. We also make a point to consider the condition being studied and how it impacts a patient’s day-to-day life, as this can be helpful when identifying and communicating the benefits of participating in the research.

Step 2: Creating a pre-screener and landing page for the trial

Before starting the outreach process, it’s vital to have a dedicated place to send the potential participants that have shown interest in the study. A landing page with more information about the trial can provide more context for patients, and a pre-screener can gather data about inclusion and exclusion criteria from those that may qualify. Both pre-screeners and landing pages are considered outreach materials, so they’re part of the materials we’ll draft that will be submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Step 3: Drafting the outreach plan

With the research we began in step one, we’re able to determine what channels will be the most effective for your outreach strategy. Facebook is a powerful way to reach audiences of all types, but there are also other social media platforms that might be helpful depending on the demographics a sponsor is trying to reach. We also tap into our partner network, including patient advocacy groups, who can advise about how best to reach particular groups of patients, and what might be important to communicate to specific populations. An outreach plan is a good way to solidify the language and the elements a sponsor wants to highlight about the study to ensure wording is consistent across all materials, creating a seamless flow for patients.

Step 4: Developing outreach materials

This step is where we’ll create ad copy, select images, design materials, and create any additional outreach resources we’ll be using in the campaign. Every piece of outreach content must be approved by the IRB, so we make sure anything that will be used is included before submitting the materials for review. We make sure to include a variety of copy options for ads, social media posts, and emails so we have plenty of materials to run effective tests and find the messaging that works best for your audience.

Step 5: Submitting outreach materials to the IRB

Once all of the outreach materials are compiled, it is time to submit them to the IRB. Typically, it will take a few weeks to receive feedback, plus additional time for any requested revisions, so we work closely with sponsors to draft a launch timeline with this in mind to avoid any delays.

Step 6: Beginning outreach and analyzing results

To learn as much as possible about the target audience, we use this period to set up tests with the ads and audiences through Facebook and other platforms. This makes it possible to identify which segment is the most responsive to the outreach and continually improve the campaign strategy as the recruitment period continues.

If you need help recruiting patients for your clinical trial, Antidote is here for you! With our data-driven insights and full-service recruitment model, we can effectively connect patients with your research opportunities and help you reach your enrollment goals. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help.