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5 factors that drive up clinical trial recruitment costs

While effectively recruiting patients is a necessary part of every study, it can also incur significant costs. Patient recruitment is one of the largest budget categories in a clinical trial, but often, this is due to ineffective outreach methods and expensive screen failures that contribute to excessive spending.

Fortunately, working with a clinical trial recruitment company enables more effective recruitment strategies that result in more qualified leads. This ultimately saves sponsors time and money as they work to meet the study’s enrollment goals. Below, we have listed out some factors that often lead to overspending on patient recruitment and our recommended methods to address them.

Reasons for high costs during clinical trial patient recruitment

Ad targeting that’s too broad.

In the initial phases of outreach, it makes sense to cast a wide net to determine which ads and channels perform the best for each unique demographic. However, after this learning period, applying the key lessons and reining in the spending is key. Too broadly defining audiences or not honing in on targeted keywords can result in costly clicks that don’t convert.

Leads that are ultimately ineligible for the trial.

One of the most prevalent issues that slow recruitment and inflate costs is attracting leads that ultimately are not suitable candidates for the study. While ads may attract patients who identify with a specific condition, it is important to conduct additional screening for criteria that may disqualify them. Taking patients to an informative landing page and providing a custom pre-screener can make it easier to ensure that resources are only utilized by patients who are likely to pass screening at the site level.

Eligible patients are unresponsive.

When ads attract seemingly eligible patients who are difficult to contact, it can be frustrating. However, it’s important to note that correctly handling follow-up can be a vital part of improving response rates. For example, offering patients the option to schedule a time to be contacted (and calling them promptly if they don’t) is a more patient-centric way to think about connecting. Additionally, following up voicemails with emails and texts can ensure patients stay engaged during this critical period.

Eligible patients don’t make it to the site.

When eligible patients interact with an ad, complete a pre-screener, pass phone validation, and then drop off, it can be difficult to understand why they chose to opt out. In these cases, it is often because there is confusion around the details of the trial, requirements for participating, or other factors that they were not made aware of earlier in the funnel. It is worth considering the main reasons patients provide for dropping off at this level and considering how outreach materials could offer clarification earlier in the process.

The most successful outreach methods are the most expensive.

Most clinical trial recruitment companies and sites will use a mix of approaches to connect with patients. If the most effective channel also turns out to be the most expensive, regularly calculate whether a return on investment is still possible based on how many randomized or consented patients the channel will yield. If these calculations point to cutting costs, consider casting a wider net with a cheaper channel to help lower spending. For example, it may be an option to work with a clinical trial patient recruitment company that uses a patient database where individuals have already expressed interest in clinical trial participation, which may be less costly than reaching out to patients for the first time.

If you’re considering working with a patient recruitment agency, learn more about how Antidote connects patients with research to see if we might be the right fit for your trial.