August 12th, 2014

Can Savvy Marketing Solve the Problem of Low Clinical Trial Recruitment?

Pharmaceutical-technology.com recently posted an item about the abysmal results of clinical trial recruitment. The article reported that 15-20% of trials never get off the ground, simply because they are unable to enroll a single participant! Furthermore, the article reported on an alarming drop in patient enrollment and retention rates, with more than two-thirds of trial sites failing to meet their enrollment goals.Clinical Trial Marketing, Patient Recruitment, Clinical Trial Recruitment, Patient Engagement

It’s not that manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies are not willing to spend money on recruitment; in reality, enrollment marketing comprises about 40% of their clinical trial budgets. The problem lies more in the fact that they are trying to recruit tech-savvy patients with old fashioned marketing strategies. With so much riding on the results of clinical trials, it is imperative to improve their recruiting strategies by thinking outside the box and taking advantage of today’s new communication opportunities. Here are a few ways savvy marketing can solve the problem of low clinical trial recruitment.

  • Increase patient education: Patients may be reluctant to participate in clinical trials because of their fear of side effects or of getting a placebo. An online microsite which provides specific high-quality information about the trial and includes short videos can help resolve these concerns. A patient blog or email stream can reinforce these initial impressions to uphold interest and increase retention once the trial begins.
  • Targeted Digital Exposure: Use all the modern day digital marketing tools at your disposal to cost-effectively promote your clinical trial. Targeted Pay-Per-Click and Search Engine Optimization strategies on the four major search engines can drive traffic back to your specially designed microsite. Contextual, display and retargeting advertising campaigns created for geographically, demographically, and condition-specific audiences can dramatically increase coverage over that which can be achieved through traditional advertising methods alone.
  • Increase the role of social media: Since so many people now utilize social media to communicate, it makes sense for clinical trials to take advantage of its benefits as well. According to The Role of Social Media in Recruiting for Clinical Trials in Pregnancy, “recruitment of women in the periconceptional period to clinical studies using traditional advertising through medical establishments is difficult and slow.” A two-phase study which used traditional healthcare-based services for recruitment in Phase 1, and supplemented them with social media in Phase 2, resulted in a 12-fold higher rate of attraction with the extra social media push.

In an MD Connect case study regarding a clinical trial for a chronic pain treatment, the sponsors initially invested over $160,000 in traditional advertising methods alone, and were spending more than $270 to drive a patient referral. MD Connect implemented online marketing initiatives which included search marketing campaigns, online advertising campaigns, multiple advanced tracking metrics, and ongoing program analysis. Total online marketing cost reductions reached 64%, with a cost per referral that dropped to $99.

Don’t risk missing recruitment quotas by limiting marketing to traditional methods. Incorporate online marketing strategies and watch your results improve dramatically.