4 cost-effective strategies for recruiting clinical trial participants

Posted by Chad Birt on Aug 23, 2021 8:00:00 AM
Chad Birt

Designing and implementing a clinical trial is a time-consuming and costly process. In fact, a 2014 report by Aylin Sertkaya et al. submitted to the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services found that on average:


  • Phase 1 clinical trials cost $4 million
  • Phase 2 clinical trials cost $13 million
  • Phase 3 trials cost $20 million


Considering that 80% of clinical trials are delayed due to recruitment issues, those costs can rise even higher, and fast. 


If you’re struggling to recruit a diverse patient base without breaking the bank, it may be due to your approach. Believe it or not, there are various tools and strategies you can use to save money without harming the integrity of your research. Here are 4 recommendations to help you get started:


1.) Don’t be afraid to recruit on social media. 70% of Americans utilize at least one social media platform. And by 2025, researchers expect the number of American-based social media users to grow to more than 243 million.


As you can see, there are lots of opportunities to interact with potential recruits online. You can post about upcoming trials for free, but if you really want to reach your target audience, invest in paid advertising.


Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok offer paid search advertising at a fraction of the cost of traditional media like newspapers, TV, or the radio. Plus, you can target your content to certain demographics, based on their age, race, gender, or certain underlying medical conditions. 


Pro tip: To ensure your content attracts as many eyes as possible, use different platforms and create a unique strategy for each. For example, you might want to create slides or an infographic and share them on Instagram or Pinterest. If you have a production team in-house, try shooting videos and posting them to YouTube or Snapchat. Get creative and have fun. It takes some trial and error to find the best approach. 


2.) Establish yourself as a thought leader. If you frequently post about upcoming clinical trials on your company website but fail to drive traffic, it might be time to start a blog. Researching and drafting long-form, quality content is an organic way to increase views and educate potential recruits. 


You don't have to have a background as a journalist or a storyteller to succeed. Throughout your years of working in biotech and pharma, you’ve gained valuable insights and experience. You know how clinical trials are designed, how they work, and why they matter. Turn that expertise into content like newsletters, videos, or an email marketing campaign. 


You can even increase your reach by studying keywords and optimizing your content for search engines. If you’re unsure where to begin, check out this helpful guide from Moz.  


3.) Share success stories. Fear is one of the most common challenges that clinical trial recruiters face. Many people, even those who might be interested in enrolling in a trial, fear the unknown or the risk of potential side effects. 


You can’t guarantee a specific treatment outcome, but you can show patients you care about their health and safety. One of the easiest ways to do that is by sharing the success stories of previous participants.


Anyone who benefits from the experience of a clinical trial will be happy to tell others about it. Consider asking for participant feedback whenever a trial starts winding down. You can share stand-alone quotes, record a video interview, or have patients fill out a digital questionnaire. 


4.) Offer some type of financial compensation. Not all trials are able to pay participants via check or cash. If you’re on a tight budget, consider offering gift cards, gift certificates, or prepaid debit cards. If those aren’t an option, consider reimbursing participants for the time they spend at appointments or for the money they spend on gas or other forms of transportation.


Do you have any other cost-effective recruitment strategies you’d add to the list? If so, please fill 

out a comment form below and click the submit button. 


If you’re struggling to recruit a diverse patient base (without going over budget) we can help. Our unique approach to FSP outsourcing allows us to meet your full or fractional resourcing needs. Call (781) 775-0342 or fill out an online contact form today. 

Topics: clinical trial strategic planning, clinical trial consulting, clinical trial remote services, Clinical Research, Pharmaceuticals, clinical trials, patient enrollment, patient recruitment

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