Clinical Trial Recruitment: Target and Educate Participants With Digital

Updated on April 7, 2023

Clinical trial recruitment is one of the most nuanced marketing programs in the medical and healthcare space. Not only do healthcare companies have to find a population with particular conditions, but they also must pinpoint those within a certain period or window of their treatment where they might have exhausted some potential options for their care.

Recruiting for clinical trials is incredibly complex, even if patients are wonderfully adept at researching their healthcare conditions. How can healthcare marketers target potential clinical trial participants within the suitable treatment timeframe with the right messaging to enroll them in their trials?

The advent of digital point-of-care marketing 

Effective patient identification and targeting are imperative for moving a therapy through its lifecycle and ultimately helping intended patients. You can’t succeed with just one of these elements. You need both. 

The traditional “spray and pray” approach in mass marketing channels such as linear television creates significant spending on reaching consumers not relevant to the specific disease and treatments. Even if a pharmaceutical marketer can determine and reach their target patient with resonant messaging, that individual still needs to make an appointment to see their doctor. And in that window, the patient might forget about the different clinical trial options. 

That’s where digital point-of-care marketing comes in.

Digital point-of-care marketing involves creating specific, highly-targeted, timely messages about the availability of a particular treatment to a patient in a window where they can talk with their physician about all of the complexities surrounding this particular decision. In strict accordance with HIPAA guidelines, the approach involves pharmaceutical marketers being provided the tools for identifying patient clusters suffering from a specific disease or ailments. To do this, marketers need access to high-quality, comprehensive, privacy-compliant data on healthcare providers and patients in a way that makes it impossible to re-identify a person or household but possible to reach the niche patient group with details of a clinical trial or new prescription.

Then, after a marketer has carefully curated their ideal audience, they can reach them within a tight 15-minute timeframe while at a doctor’s office in which they encourage patients to discuss a clinical trial as part of their ongoing treatment. This is how an informed patient-physician conversation takes place. Digital enables marketers to adjust audiences for reach, frequency, and response to engage every member without over-serving ads. 

Digital marketing is especially beneficial when recruiting patients with rare conditions. The education level of the average patient suffering from a particular disease disproportionately rises. They’ve gone through many doctors and potential treatment options and may have even attempted to diagnose this condition frequently. So, these patients are more well-versed than others in the options available. If pharmaceutical marketers can reach these specific individuals in one of their research windows online, then the odds of successfully enrolling them in the trial increase dramatically.

A marathon, not a sprint

Recruiting for clinical trials isn’t a realm in which pharmaceutical brands can parachute in with a new product. It’s a decision that an individual is making about their health outcomes. Often, it involves the idea of life-saving care for an individual or a loved one. It’s not a decision to make lightly.

There must be a degree of trust and brand presence built up based on information released about ongoing clinical trials and new research about a particular condition. In a space rife with misinformation, especially surrounding healthcare conditions, making messaging targeted and relevant is in your best interest. This is how a pharmaceutical brand can establish a dialogue with patients long before potential therapies are available.

The good news is that pharmaceutical brands have significant digital opportunities to create a trusted name by showcasing that they care about patient needs and are doing everything possible to help them at every opportunity. Digital – both inside and outside of the physician’s office – allows pharmaceutical marketers to develop the appropriate message and put it in front of the relevant patients and their caregivers in a way others channels can’t. Being a suitable and trusted partner and ensuring you deliver marketing messages directly to those individuals for whom you can do the most good is how pharmaceutical marketers will continue to thrive in the digital environment.

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Justin Thompson
Justin Thompson is GM of Identity and Healthcare Services at Semcasting. For more than 20 years, Justin has been a leader in the data and marketing technologies space. Prior to joining Semcasting as general manager of identity and healthcare services, he made noteworthy contributions at Acxiom, LiveRamp and Decile. Justin currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.