Recruiting Clinical Trial Participants Through Targeted Outreach

August 19, 2021

Luis Angel

Recruiting Clinical Trial Participants Through Targeted Outreach

Clinical trials play an essential role in the development of new medications, medical devices, and treatment methodologies. Whether researchers are developing new cancer therapies or remedies to alleviate allergic reactions, the success of every clinical trial depends on finding qualified patients who are interested in participating.

But that can be easier said than done, due to an arduous process that typically relies on advertising to recruit participants. This requires the clinical trial sponsor to spend significant dollars up front and then qualify every interested patient. Many responding patients don’t qualify, however, which wastes valuable time, increases costs, lengthens the trial, and delays the sponsor’s ability to bring potentially life-saving drugs to market.

Clinical Trial Recruitment Comes of Age

Last year, a pharmaceutical manufacturer approached United BioSource (UBC), a leading provider of pharmaceutical support services, about the difficulty it was having recruiting patients for a Phase III clinical trial for major depressive disorder (MDD). Given the nature of MDD, the manufacturer was struggling to identify and recruit patients who met the project’s inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Understanding that traditional advertising wouldn’t deliver the desired results, UBC decided to partner with DrFirst to implement a new type of patient outreach program that identified patients based on the protocol criteria. For this study, that meant people who were prescribed medications approved to treat MDD, were 18 to 65 years of age, and lived within a 75-mile radius of investigator sites.

Using this process, more than 93,000 qualifying patients were identified, 24,000 patients visited the study website, and approximately 2,400 patients are in various stages of follow-up and enrollment. While traditional enrollment methods deliver only a 3% to 5% response rate, the DrFirst program achieved a 60% response rate. (See the story in Outsourcing Pharma for more details.)

Novel Approach Earns Industry Award

In recognition of its innovative approach to patient recruitment, United BioSource received the 2021 Healthiverse Heroes Award for Life Sciences. This award recognizes healthcare leaders who are making significant and meaningful advancements in building a better and more connected healthcare universe by connecting providers and patients with the information they need when and where they need it.  


Find out more about how DrFirst can expedite clinical trials by helping teams recruit and enroll qualified patients and keep them engaged throughout the process.

About Luis Angel
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Luis Angel is President, Consumer Solutions for DrFirst.