Randomized Clinical Trials: How to Attract Patients Through Digital Media

Randomized Clinical Trials: How to Attract Patients Through Digital Media

Safe, organized randomized clinical trials are necessary for everyone’s health and well-being. But when the participants of that clinical trial are people with rare diseases, it can be difficult to reach out to them, even if the trial could offer them and others with the same disease immense help. Among other clinical trial recruitment challenges, the small population of those with rare diseases can be a major roadblock for a lot of clinical trial organizers.

Fortunately, you can reach potential trial participants, even those in remote locations or with rare diseases, through online targeted advertising.

What is a randomized clinical trial?

A randomized clinical trial is a research study conducted with human volunteers to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and potential side effects of new medical treatments, interventions, or devices.

These trials are designed to test the effectiveness of a new treatment method on a group of participants who have been diagnosed with a specific medical condition or disease.

Why conduct a randomized clinical trial?

The results of clinical trials are used to gain regulatory approval from agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. This allows clinical trials to help determine if the intervention can be used safely and effectively in the general population. As a result, randomized clinical trials play a crucial role in developing revolutionary new treatment options that are efficient and sustainable.

Why is it hard to recruit patients for clinical trials?

Many clinical trials find themselves unable to contribute to new research and the development of treatment methods simply because their initial reach does not extend far enough. According to research by Pharmaceutical-Technology.com, 15% of clinical trials never enroll a single consumer.¹ Plus, more than two-thirds of clinical trials fail to meet their original enrollment goals.

That means knowing how to reach the right patients can be critical. Digital media is a powerful tool for reaching the right audience. Targeted marketing strategies get information about your randomized clinical trial in front of the patients you want to be involved in the study.

When connecting with the right patients, you ensure that a large and diverse pool of qualified participants will contribute to the clinical trial’s success.

Overcoming Clinical Trial Recruitment Challenges

A rare disease, by definition, affects less than 200,000 patients in the U.S. It can be difficult to get in touch with that specific group of patients. Here are some ways to improve participation in your rare disease clinical trials.

  1. Hypertarget healthcare professionals and patients: To increase the success of your clinical trial, you need the ability to identify your target audience, whether they be healthcare professionals or patients. By partnering with Adfire Health,  you can segment 8.2MM+ healthcare professionals by over 600 specialties and 100 license types and 300MM+ US consumers by over 10,000 disease types. Our data is safely obtained and HIPPA-compliant.
  2. Increase Physician Referrals: Physicians and healthcare providers refer patients to clinical trials if they meet specific eligibility criteria. It’s important to reach physicians and patients at the point of care when the clinical trial is top of mind.
  3. Email: Reach potential participants by including rare disease clinical trial recruitment information in popularly read email newsletters.
  4. Social Media: Clinical trials may be advertised online through carefully selected social media platforms to reach a broader audience.
  5. Strategic Media Placements: Reach participants on the channels and devices they are most likely to be on, including mobile and in-app, CTV and OTT, high impact and native.

Adfire Health has the resources to take advantage of solutions for digital-centric media recruitment, including these and other options.

See It In Action: Finding Patients for a Clinical Trial

With all of these options for marketing in mind, how can you put your ideas into action? Finding qualified participants for a randomized clinical trial is easier when you know whom to market to, at what time, and at which location(s). Otherwise, your efforts may be in vain.

For example, an Adfire Health client was struggling to recruit qualified patients, ages 18-65, in the Las Vegas area to sign up for a rare disease clinical trial. Before partnering with Adfire Health, they only targeted participants through social media marketing, with limited success and at a high cost. Their ads were not reaching the right people, and without a programmatic approach, they were wasting money on marketing efforts.

To increase awareness, Adfire Health focused on targeting a precise audience rather than focusing on one solitary social media channel. To reach the appropriate patients, Adfire Health used HIPAA-compliant data and strategies that included:

  • Lookalike modeling from medical claims data
  • Contextually relevant content
  • Geofencing at the point-of-care
  • Behavioral data such as purchases, web browsing, interest, and demographic data

With programmatic media, Adfire Health was able to deliver information about the clinical trial to the most relevant audiences on a wide array of media across multiple devices and in different formats. As a result, more qualified potential patients became aware of the clinical trial.

With an efficient and deliberate marketing strategy, the recruitment campaign was far more effective, which made the randomized clinical trial successful.

With the right data and media, engage with the audiences so that your clinical trial doesn’t fall flat before it’s even been given a chance to change lives.


  1. Standberry, S. (2023, February 22). Traditional media vs. social media advertising. LYFE Marketing. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.lyfemarketing.com/traditional-media-versus-social-media/

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