How Digital Advertising for Clinical Trials Can Help Speed Enrollment

When a clinical trial launches, many sponsors first rely on site databases and outreach to get patient recruitment off the ground. Unfortunately, nearly half of clinical trial research sites fail to meet their targets – and some are unable to enroll a single patient. From there, sponsors may enlist the support of a clinical trial patient recruitment company to “rescue” the trial. While it’s important to catch up once a timeline is behind – by some estimates, running a clinical trial costs $37,000 a day – it’s worth considering whether activating clinical trial advertising earlier in the process may help keep your trial on track.

Digital advertising for clinical trials can accelerate your recruitment timelines in several ways:

Give sites more time to perform intake and follow-up.

Running advertising campaigns, particularly through platforms like Facebook and Google, is time consuming if you want to get the best results. It’s important to closely monitor ads to see which are performing best, respond to comments, and adjust targeting. If sites don’t have to run advertising campaigns themselves, it gives staff more time to screen patients in person, which gives patients a better experience, too.

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Precise targeting leads to more qualified patients.

Complex inclusion and exclusion criteria can slow down your patient recruitment process. With digital advertising, recruiters can easily adjust targeting as they learn more about which patients are most likely to be qualified for the trial. For example, they may find that patients associated with a particular interest or keyword are more or less likely to be qualified for a trial, and adjust accordingly. Site-level recruitment, based on patient databases, is less likely to able to use precise targeting when identifying patients.

Validate patients before they reach your sites.

In addition to more precisely targeting patients who are more likely to be qualified for a particular study, clinical trial advertising can also be used to screen out patients based on details such as lab values. While this is a less traditional advertising option, recruitment companies that have relationships with EHR companies or labs are able to connect directly with patients who have had certain lab results at a recent visit. These patients are much more likely to be qualified for your trial based on specific requirements, saving sites screening time.

Learn about trial roadblocks and challenges faster.

Digital outreach also allows sponsors and sites to learn about recruitment difficulties faster, and gives teams more time to find a solution. For example, through digital outreach using a prescreener, recruiters may discover that fewer patients than expected qualify for the trial. A team can then decide to expand outreach to cast a wider net in order to ultimately enroll more patients into the study. With site outreach only, sites typically have a smaller pool of patients to contact, and may not use an online prescreener before inviting patients to their site, making it likely that sites will need to screen additional unqualified patients.

digital advertising

Run tests and find the messaging that works best.

With digital advertising, marketers are able to test out a variety of ad copy and images in order to find the most effective options. Patient recruitment can also change during the course of a campaign – for example, the ads that bring in the most clicks and eligible submissions may not be the same ones that lead to consents and randomizations. Savvy recruiters will track the progress of each patient throughout the campaign and update targeting and creative accordingly to bring in the most qualified patients. Site outreach is generally conducted through email blasts and phone calls, which leave less room for testing and improvement.

Digital advertising allows patient recruiters to reach more qualified patients faster, and reduce the burden on research sites, too. The longer clinical research takes, the longer patients wait for new treatments, so it’s important for everyone that trials stay on track.


Are you looking for tips on how to make the most of your advertising dollars? Watch our webinar, "Making 'Cents' of Your Recruitment Campaign" for insights from our digital advertising experts:

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ClinEdge Staff

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