Clinical trial sites traditionally market individual trials for patient recruitment using advertising materials and/or budgets given to them by sponsors. A sponsor-provided budget is typically $3000 – $5000, which isn’t much considering the cost of television, radio, and newspaper advertisements, printing, etc.
Even though advertising per trial is an effective strategy for filling studies in the short-term, clinical trial sites need to start taking a long-term view on their patient recruitment efforts, as many studies go unfilled or fail to meet their recruitment goals. According to “Transforming Clinical Research in the United States: Challenges and Opportunities: Workshop Summary” by the National Institute of Health (NIH), 27 percent of U.S. clinical sites fail to enroll any subjects for a given trial and 75 percent fail to enroll the target number of subjects. Furthermore, 90 percent of clinical trials worldwide must extend their enrollment period as a result of failing to enroll the target number of patients in the set enrollment timeframe.
If your site falls under these statistics, which it likely does for at least some clinical trials, there is a solution: focus more on marketing your core indications instead of your individual clinical trials.
Marketing your core indications allows you to develop a solid, long-term plan for patient recruitment.
The short-term focus of marketing per clinical trial is currently the largest problem of patient recruitment in the clinical trial industry. Sites are focused on filling current trials without a real plan on how to fill a trial next time there is one with the same indication. Instead, sites need a strategy that will fill the pipeline long before a trial even starts.
This is where marketing your core indications can prepare you for your next trial, and the trial after that, and so on, helping you create a long-term patient recruitment strategy. By marketing to create a trusted community based off of a core indication, you create an environment where patients become familiar with your site and staff, where new patients can easily join your community (and database), and where you can easily communicate with future clinical trial participants. Members of your community can ask questions about the indication, receive updates for clinical trials, and work as liaisons by inviting friends and family to join the group.
Once you have established your core indication group, your patient recruitment job is much more simple. Use text messaging to reach out to your community! Start an engagement campaign to keep your group members interested and involved. Health tips, short surveys, and links to relevant internet content can easily be sent via text message engagement campaigns to help your “queued” patients keep clinical trial participation in mind as they wait for new clinical trials to start at your site. Once those new trials are awarded, you can easily send study alert text messages to the patients in your core indication group and start patient recruitment in a sprint instead of a slow walk.
It’s time to focus on your core indications and market to the patient family you know that you need to create. Your patient database will allow you to source 60-70% of your patients, but creating your core indication communities will allow you to reach the remaining 30-40% and achieve your enrollment targets. Instead of saying, “I won’t take this trial since I know I can’t meet the recruitment goals from my own database,” you will be able to confidently accept a greater number of clinical trials and grow your site to new heights.
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