Zed Williamson

Finding the Best Clinical Trial Recruitment Companies: 5 Must-Haves

When you lack the time or expertise to recruit patients for clinical trials, sometimes you need to hire a company for help.

Web search bar for 'best clinical trial recruitment companies' with a photo of doctor at desk in background

Considering hiring a clinical trial recruitment company to meet the enrollment needs of your study? Good idea. After all, even with all the trial recruitment strategies and advice available, expertise and experience can often help you hit your targets faster, and more predictably.

But choosing the right recruitment company for your clinical trial isn’t always easy, especially given the number of studies that fail to materialize when they can’t get enough participants. Let’s explore how what puts a clinical trial recruitment company at the top of your list, and what to watch for to avoid wasting your money.

Hire an experienced clinical trial recruitment partner – learn about TrackableMed’s clinical trial recruitment services.

The different types of clinical trial recruitment companies

Clinical trial patient recruitment companies specialize in recruiting and retaining patients for clinical trials. But they’re not all the same. Most of these teams will help you build out recruitment plans, while identifying unique opportunities and challenges along the way. However, some recruitment companies only work with research sites, while others work directly with sponsors.

Successful recruitment companies implement a range of outreach tactics to recruit patients, and their recruitment process may leverage existing relationships with patient organizations and physicians, patient databases, and conventional marketing (such as digital and mass media advertising).

Keeping this in mind, what are the signs of a good clinical trial recruitment company? Here are 5 factors to look for when vetting a recruitment partner:

1. The company should have experience recruiting participants for clinical trials, and have a clear understanding of the process

This should be obvious, but you shouldn't just turn to any recruitment company for help. The company should be experienced in conducting outreach and marketing activities to reach potential participants.

A company that specializes in clinical trial recruitment will likely have a database of potential participants who have already been screened and are interested in participating in clinical trials. Depending on your specific trial this can save a lot of time and money, as you may not  have to start from scratch in finding eligible participants.

If marketing is part of the recruitment strategy, make sure the company has an experienced internal marketing team, familiar with creating effective digital marketing campaigns. You can always ask about how they develop their marketing materials, or to review their past work.

Additionally, these companies will often have staff who are experienced in working with IRBs (Institutional Review Boards) and research sponsors, which can make the process of getting a trial approved and underway much smoother.

Bonus if they have experience in recruiting patients for the specific sub-specialty, such as urology or ENT if it’s a study in that area.

2. The company should be able to provide a clear outline of their recruitment and administration processes, and the budget for different options

With a decision like this, you don’t want surprises. If they seem unwilling to divulge information about their processes, this might be a red flag.

  • Transparent methods: A recruitment company should be able to provide a detailed plan outlining the methods they will use to identify and screen potential participants. This plan should include the criteria that will be used to identify eligible participants, as well as the process that will be used to screen these individuals.
  • Clear timeline: the company should also provide a timeline for when they expect to complete these tasks. They should outline their plans for communicating with potential participants and coordinating logistics for trial visits.
  • Contingency plans: with the amount of challenges around trial recruitment, enrollment obstacles are common, and sometimes unavoidable. Ask how they will handle potential challenges, and how they might adapt if their strategy isn’t hitting the milestones they set.
  • Logical budget: a clinical trial recruitment company should be able to provide a clear budget for their services. This budget should not be cookie cutter and should include the cost of outreach, advertising, screening, and coordinating logistics for trial visits, so you understand the costs associated with different recruitment methods, and you can make an informed decision about which option is best for your needs.

3. The company should have a good reputation and track record

Reputable online review sites like Trustpilot can sometimes provide a quick way to eliminate bad options, but you will likely want to go a step further. When deciding between recruitment companies, see if you can speak with their past clients for feedback.

You may have questions about communication and transparency throughout the process, how satisfied they were with the company’s work overall, and any critiques or issues to be aware of.

4. The company should have a process in place to screen and vet potential participants to ensure they meet the eligibility requirements for the clinical trial.

You want to ensure that only the best possible participants are screened at the sites, as this can impact the cost, speed and site buy in of the study. Additionally, it is important to uncover early on if participants may not be able to complete the trial. There are some companies that use a “hope” method…pile as many patients as possible into the site and hopefully enough randomize. The problem is you overload the site and create a poor experience for all involved.

Your clinical trial recruitment company should outline a detailed plan for how they will identify and filter potential participants, including eligibility assessments and screening processes.

Bear in mind that not every recruitment company offers screening services, so be sure to ask each candidate.

5. The company should be able to provide feedback on potential bottlenecks of a trial.

There are many variables that impact recruitment for a trial. If a company only looks at whether a patient randomized or not… the key to success is being overlooked. There are variables in region, time of year, site employees, disease state, study specifics, etc. Everything matters in driving to your goal. Make sure you’re using a company that has an eye on all of variables so you can adapt quickly.

Next steps

When you’re ready to hire a clinical trial recruitment company, remember to consider their experience with clinical trials and marketing, their standards of transparency and trustworthiness, their reputation, their extent of services and screening, and their level of ongoing support.

If you’d like to see how TrackableMed checks all these boxes, schedule a free consultation to discuss our clinical trial recruitment services.