June 12th, 2019

Big Tech’s Growing Interest in Clinical Trial Marketing

big tech and pharma

Alphabet’s Verily is partnering with major pharma companies, marking an industry-wide shift toward patient-centric trial design and strategic digital patient recruitment.

Pharma companies that have long struggled with clinical trial recruitment are beginning to partner with Verily, a research organization owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Verily is focused on the intersection of technology and healthcare, and is now moving into the clinical trial space. After launching its own study, Project Baseline, in 2017, Verily is branching out to work on new initiatives with a number of major pharma companies.

Verily’s latest partnerships have the potential to modernize clinical trial recruitment and design. As a leader in healthcare technology, the organization can help sponsors and CROs reduce the time it takes to bring new treatments to market. Verily also offers an innovative approach to digital marketing that clinical trials can use to reach new patients and achieve their enrollment goals.

Verily Partners with Pharma Companies

Verily recently announced that it will be working with pharmaceutical companies including Novartis, Sanofi, Otsuka, and Pfizer. These partnerships are designed to make it easier for patients to enroll and participate in clinical trials through the use of digital marketing, electronic health records, and health-tracking wearable devices. Verily’s efforts also include the optimization of healthcare data – data collected from patients’ “real lives” as opposed to the lab – in ways that drive new innovations.

The aforementioned Project Baseline was launched with the goal of enrolling 10,000 participants in clinical trials. These patients are given access to new tools and technologies like DNA tests and wearables, creating the possibility they will be able to contribute to cutting-edge healthcare developments. After raising over $1 billion in capital, Verily is working with its pharma partners to identify further opportunities in cardiovascular disease, oncology, mental health, dermatology, and diabetes.

The Future of Clinical Trial Marketing

In order to recruit patients for Project Baseline, Verily is leveraging its connection with Google to implement strategic digital marketing initiatives. Specifically, the company uses Google Ads to target patients who are searching for health-related information online and invites them to join the project.

Recently, Verily has expanded Project Baseline’s scope to include even more patients in its registry. Anyone can enroll after filling out a simple online survey that takes less than 15 minutes. Patients then have access to a vast collection of clinical trials conducted by Verily and its partners. Some studies offer patients stipends for time and travel, but many patients are motivated by the potential to advance the health of others through medical research. Verily also plans to offer patients easy access to their clinical trial results, which has proven to be a key incentive for trial participation.

To follow Verily’s example – and, hopefully, replicate its early success – clinical trial sponsors and CROs should consider using PPC ads to engage users who are making health-related search queries. For instance, someone who conducts a search for diabetes medication online can be prompted to join a clinical trial for patients with type 2 diabetes. Such an ad will direct the user to a specialized landing page that invites them to join the study.

As a tech powerhouse, Verily’s approach to clinical trial recruitment is likely to influence sponsors and CROs throughout the industry. Its focus on digital marketing underscores the importance of using tools like search advertising to reach new patients. Sponsors and CROs can also learn from Verily’s patient-centric trial design, which makes it easy for people to enroll and participate in studies. These initiatives are especially significant since they exemplify a larger movement to modernize clinical trials and make them more convenient and accessible to patients.