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5 best recruitment strategies for clinical trials

RingCentral for Life Sciences


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  • 85% of all clinical trials fail to recruit sufficient patients, and 80% delay due to recruitment challenges.
  • A successful clinical trial recruitment process hinges on the researchers’ ability to:
    • Understand patient needs
    • Build relevant connections in the health community
    • Partner with the right recruitment firm
    • Create an effective digital recruitment campaign
    • Effectively follow up with trial participants
  • With RingCentral, researchers can establish the links they need to recruit the right participants and retain them until the end of the trial.

🧑‍🔬👨🏻‍💻🚀 Patient recruitment can benefit significantly from digital solutions. Read our checklist that trial administrators can use to deploy the right technologies.

A proper digital recruitment platform gives you the tools you need to engage suitable patients through a targeted, interactive experience that makes them feel valued.


If you are a medical researcher, you know all too well about the costly, complicated, and time-intensive process of bringing a new drug to market. To put it into perspective, the world’s tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, only cost constructors half the money required to deliver new medicine to patients. Pushing the cost of success even higher is the fact that 90% of all test drugs that reach trial stages never get approved.

The biggest category of spending in R&D is clinical trials, and most of the money spent on trials goes toward programs that fail.”

—Rob Lenz, Head of Global Development at Amgen Inc.

At first glance, you might think this alarming failure rate is entirely due to stringent measures by regulators like the FDA. However, a detailed analysis of clinical research programs reveals financing and patient recruitment as significant hurdles.

Although financing problems may be out of their control, trial managers can do quite a lot to enhance recruitment. With 40% of the total research budget going to patient acquisition, refining enrollment can also help save costs and mitigate funding challenges.


Clinical trial recruitment strategies

Here are five clinical trial recruitment strategies designed to help trials meet their objectives and connect patients with the right treatment opportunities.

In summary, clinical trials must:

  1. Properly understand patient needs and preferences before starting recruitment.
  2. Connect with local healthcare providers, non-profit organizations, and patient advocates.
  3. Partner with a patient-focused recruitment company that insists on diversity in outreach.
  4. Create an effective digital recruitment campaign.
  5. Reinforce follow-up services.

RingCentral for Life Sciences

1. Properly understand patient needs and preferences before starting recruitment

Patient voice must be the foundation of any clinical study. A trial cannot attract the right participants if it lacks the endpoints that are relevant to them. Therefore, as a researcher, you must start by asking the right questions to understand what your target patients need and expect from your trial.

For instance, industry statistics show that patients living with chronic conditions are less likely to participate in new drug trials than acute patients. Because finding the right treatment for chronic conditions like lupus and Alzheimer’s Disease can take time, chronic patients are often less interested in trying something new than acute patients.

In trials for long-lasting ailments, potential participants need a clear presentation of the benefits of joining and how the outcomes may improve currently available treatments.

Similarly, trials that require either in-clinic or in-home patient care are typically less attractive to patients than those which only need occasional visitation because they offer limited flexibility. If your trial requires close monitoring, you must carefully highlight the convenience you offer, such as video conference options and flexible scheduling.

Patients will be more inclined to join your trial if you demonstrate a proper understanding of their needs from the beginning.

2. Connect with local healthcare providers, non-profit organizations, and patient advocates

A CISCRP survey reveals that 64% of patients prefer hearing about a trial from their healthcare provider rather than a third party. So, when starting your recruitment drive, the proper approach is to connect with prospective participants through their primary caregivers.

Consider developing outreach materials specifically for doctors and leveraging any relationships you may have with local hospitals to promote your trial. That way, patients will view your study as more of a recommendation from their caregiver rather than a mere advertisement.

Besides practitioners, you can also partner with non-profit organizations and patient advocacy groups to increase visibility. Collaborating with these organizations can help add a layer of credibility to your trial and give patients a sense of security about their participation.

3. Partner with a patient-focused recruitment company that insists on diversity in outreach

Any clinical trial must have diversity at the forefront of its outreach strategy. Differences in gender, genetics, age, weight, race, and even location can influence treatment efficacy and safety. Without a diverse group of participants, trial outcomes might fail to identify critical performance variations across different demographics.

When evaluating whether a recruitment company can adequately meet the diversity requirement, prepare questions that get to the heart of the firm’s activities.

  • Do its outreach materials reflect the entire patient population?
  • Does it use a wide range of different approaches to reach and recruit patients?
  • Is it using technology to map and track diversity accurately using pre-determined metrics?
  • Does it have a diverse team of recruiters?
  • Is it well connected to patient advocates or other community groups?

Gauging a company’s ability to recruit diverse participants can help you pick the partner that will maximize your trial’s chances of success.

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4. Create an effective digital recruitment campaign

Online marketing methods like digital ads and social media campaigns can be highly effective in reaching patients beyond health databases and connecting with them in their most preferred way.

Social media attracts 3.5 billion users at any given time, making it the ultimate tool for engaging potential trial participants. With minimal time and effort, you can get your message to the masses and reach a good number of patients.

Interest and keyword targeting can also enable you to find patients actively looking for treatment options and most likely to sign up for your trial.

5. Reinforce follow-up services

Your trial may constantly be on your mind, but it could just be one more notification on patients’ phones. Without effective follow-ups, your texts and emails risk being overlooked or forgotten.

While automated notifications can be effective at reminding patients to take the next step in the trial, a comprehensive engagement approach is more desirable. Patients have numerous communication options at their disposal, from phone calls and emails to online chats and social media.

Therefore, it is essential to apply communication strategies that accommodate all channels. Data analytics can also help log the platforms a particular patient uses the most. With this insight, you can create tailored engagements and maximize response rates.

Reinforce your patient recruitment strategy with RingCentral 

In clinical trials, a successful recruitment process hinges on the researchers’ ability to understand patient needs, build relevant connections in the health community, partner with a capable recruitment firm, create an effective digital recruitment campaign, and effectively follow up with trial participants. At the heart of these five pillars is the right communications platform.   

RingCentral delivers all necessary channels on one cloud-based platform, enabling your team to engage with relevant parties, be they patients, healthcare providers, advocates, non-profit organizations, or recruitment companies, as seamlessly and cost-effectively as possible. With RingCentral’s modern and secure cloud communications, you can establish the links you need to recruit the right participants and retain them until the end of your trial.

Reach out to a RingCentral expert today to help you refine your patient recruitment process and achieve stellar results.

Originally published Dec 02, 2021, updated Feb 10, 2022

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