Over the course of the last several years, it has become more and more difficult to fill clinical research studies. Several factors are at play here:
Traditional advertising doesn’t yield the same results as it used to. Sponsors are tighter with their advertising budgets. IRB regulations limit the ability to build effective commercials. Studies have very limiting inclusion/exclusion criteria. And volunteers can be unreliable.
Our marketing agency works with medical offices, clinical research centers, and pharmaceutical sponsors to help recruit patients for clinical research studies. Based on our experience, here are a few things that sponsors and sites can do to overcome these obstacles and build highly effective recruitment campaigns and fill studies.
Build and Grow a Strong Segmented Marketing Database
A center’s database is its most important asset when it comes to recruitment. Almost everyone has a database, but there is a huge difference between having a database and having a great database that gets results.
Sites who have a well-built segmented database and a solid strategy to build, maintain, and recruit from it will be putting themselves in the position to be the most efficient and effective recruiters in the business. Also, EMR or specialized clinical trial databases aren’t always very useful for marketing, so it usually makes sense to have a separate database to be used strictly for recruitment.
Add Marketing Automation to the Recruitment Process
One of the most important qualities of a solid database is the ability to easily identify and reach out to specific segments in bulk. For instance, the ability to identify all of your migraine sufferers or type 1 diabetics and to send them all a personalized email within a few clicks can add magnitudes of efficiency. Volunteers can apply to clinical trials that they’re interested in online through your website or an external app. In addition, your recruitment team can review applications in bulk and follow up only with the candidates who meet the most important inclusion/exclusion criteria. Advanced analytics can also alert sites to candidates who may not have applied, but showed interest by clicking on the email and reading about the available trials.
Build a Strong Web Presence
Similar to databases, almost everyone has a website. But the difference between a website and a recruitment website that gets results is worth exploring. We operate off of a basic equation that helps measure website effectiveness. We are able to determine the specific number of traffic, leads, and enrollments that come from a site in a given time period. By focusing on these three numbers, we are able to focus efforts on moving each key metric–which affects the end goal:
Traffic → Leads → Enrollments
1. Increase overall traffic to the site.
2. Increase the percentage of visitors and/or leads who apply.
3. Increase the percentage of applicants who enroll or complete.
We recently built a recruitment website for Diablo Clinical Research, who saw a significant increase in traffic and clinical trial applications.
Trade Traditional Media for Digital Media When Appropriate
Most of the trials that we help sites recruit for have a budget between $3,000 and $5,000, which doesn’t go very far with traditional media. Depending on the demographic, print, TV, and radio can still make sense. But whenever possible, we lean toward areas that are more efficient and that we are able to target more effectively.
One of our most successful tools is strategically placing online ads that lead to surveys that act as trial applications. Prospective volunteers complete the survey and our recruitment team is able to review applications in bulk and respond to only those who meet the baseline criteria. We have also been able to combine this type of campaign with highly targeted digital campaigns on Pandora and other internet radio sites.
Recruitment is a complex process and there are many things that can be done to fine tune and get more results with diminishing resources. Sites who figure this out will emerge as the most efficient recruiters in the business with the preferred sites for trials by sponsors. Likewise, sponsors who are able to harness efficiencies will be able to take a huge bite out of recruitment costs.