Recruiting patients is one of the most challenging tasks for most research organizations. You have to define who is eligible for the trial, reach out to a clinical research organization like Veristat, and ensure you recruit the correct number of participants, which can be a headache for many clinical trial planners. A hassle-free recruitment process requires critical planning tailored to your clinical study. A good recruitment plan ensures you complete the enrollment process on time and within budget. This step-by-step guide reveals four simple ways of creating an effective clinical trial recruitment plan. The result is a seamless enrollment process that ensures you begin your trial as scheduled.

Step 1: Research Your Audience

This step is crucial. If you do it right, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to recruit and retain patients in your clinical trials study. Message boards, support group websites, patient nonprofits, and social media are rich sources to learn about potential patients’ challenges. When researching, go beyond learning about the symptoms of your patients’ conditions. Dig deep into why patients join or decline trials like yours. What are the potential obstacles that hinder participation? This information will help you intelligently deal with trial barriers and attract participants quickly.

Step 2: Determine the Benefits of Participating in the Clinical Trial

Don’t skip this step. It determines if the next step (no.3) will be successful. Once you have enough information about your audience, determine your trial’s benefits that appeal to potential patients. What trial aspect motivates potential participants to join the study? For example, the benefit of your clinical trial can be access to a new treatment that treats a specific health condition. Another motivating factor in your trial can be the ability of patients without health insurance to access medical treatment at no cost.

Step 3: Create a Marketing Strategy

In this step, you already know your audience and understand the trial’s benefits. You will use this information in your marketing strategy. Marketing plays a critical role in finding and retaining clinical trial patients. However, many trial planners fail to recognize how challenging it is to capture potential patients’ attention. As a result, they ignore this step in their patient recruitment plan —a big mistake. To avoid facing recruitment failure because of the same mistake, identify the marketing channels where you can easily reach your target audience. You can Leverage popular marketing channels like social media, pay-per-click on web platforms, and email. Ensure each marketing channel you use fits your budget to reduce recruitment overhead costs.

Step 4: Have Backup in Your Recruitment Plan

Everything in your recruitment plan is based on data. Use these data to create a plan B in case plan A fails. Here’s a simple illustration of using data to include a backup in your recruitment plan. Let’s say your clinical trial wants to enroll 200 patients. Research estimates that about 20% of enrolled patients drop out in any clinical trial. That means you would need 20% more patients above your enrollment target to ensure you retain the necessary number of patients even after others drop out. In this case, you would need 200 × (120÷100) = 240 patients in your clinical trial.

Critical planning is key in the recruitment process. Follow the four basic steps above to create an effective recruitment plan.