C6: Accelerating Clinical Trial Recruitment Through Data Science and Automation

The journey of developing new therapies is often hindered by a critical bottleneck: patient recruitment for clinical trials. 

A 2020 study published by Perspectives in Clinical Research found that insufficient patient recruiting is the main reason for trial termination globally, with more than 80% of trials unable to enroll a sufficient number of patients on time. A 2023 study published in the Journal of Biosciences and Medicines reported similar findings. 

Clinical researchers, contract research organizations (CROs), and pharmaceutical companies have grappled with the challenges of ineffective, unpredictable, and costly recruitment processes for years — despite the existence of sophisticated “recruitment” (i.e., sales) strategies evolving quickly in non-medical industries. The conversion challenges that are inherent to recruitment are present in other industries as well, and our experience in solving these problems in those industries offers a better way forward for clinical trials. 

I co-founded C6 to help clinical researchers enroll the right patients faster, more efficiently, and at the right cost for clinical research sites.

Based on well-established methodologies proven in multiple sectors, there are the three key distinctions that underpin our approach and differentiate our services from traditional recruiting firms.

  1. A Localized, Site-Branded Approach

The most common question I receive from potential clients is: How are you different from the recruiting firms we’ve used previously?

It’s a fair question, and it reflects a good bit of warranted skepticism. The reality is that clinical trial recruitment has always been a struggle, and while most sites and researchers have tried recruitment services, they’ve not been able to consistently achieve good results. The typical scenario described to us is that even when recruiting campaigns are effective early on, candidate quality declines quickly as the figurative low-hanging fruit is quickly exhausted.

C6 is different in that we take a fundamentally different approach to identifying and engaging with the candidates for each research site.

Our campaigns are site focused and site branded. Localized, highly targeted campaigns are far more effective than centralized approaches that insert third parties between the research site and patients. 

Under the traditional model, a recruitment ad is run on a social media platform and prompts interested patients to enter their contact information. That information is eventually passed on to the research site (which is completely unknown to the candidate), which then reaches out to the patient several days later. However, this model has already created a disconnect between the site and potential participants.

From the patient’s perspective, the site’s initial call often seems like a cold call from an organization they’ve never heard of. If they answer the call at all, they are likely to be skeptical and on guard because they’ve never heard of the research site and may not remember engaging with the ad several days before. Unfortunately, this approach leads to many dead ends.

With C6’s localized and site-branded approach, digital campaigns run in each site’s brand. Patients then recognize the site’s name when they are contacted, which leads to more productive initial contacts, higher quality referrals, and increased awareness of each site’s brand in patient communities.

We use an advanced, data-centric approach to better identify and deliver qualified referrals that are best suited to each site and study. This, in turn, delivers the right patients at the appropriate pace and volume.

  1. Cross-Industry Marketing Experience Have Been Translated into Proven Methodologies and Purpose-Built Technologies

C6’s leadership brings expertise in marketing and purchasing processes that have been proven in other industries. Over the past five years, we’ve translated that experience into an industry- and process-specific methodology for clinical trial recruitment. Instead of doing the same old thing, we developed a purpose-built technology platform that optimizes enrollment at the individual site level. Our campaigns have enabled dozens of research sites to successfully speed up their enrollment across many therapeutic areas through better execution.

Each of our campaigns begins with a detailed analysis of the media landscape to identify the best buying opportunities and understand the competitive marketplace. We analyze each campaign with these goals in mind:

  • Competition: Media markets are competitive, and every ad placed is competing for the limited attention of the same people. 
  • Cooperation: Some sites are running their own campaigns, so we make sure we’re cooperative with their efforts, adding incremental value through efforts like “shelf space” strategies.
  • Localization: Each local media market has its own attributes of demand, demographics, and opportunity, so our media strategy, bidding, and landing page experience(s) may vary on a local level.
  • Benchmarking: We use advanced market research tools to help with benchmarking and to understand how our performance compares on a relative basis, ensuring we know “what good looks like.”

Based on our analysis, we collaborate with each client to define and customize the type of referrals that best align with a campaign and site’s operational capabilities. We recognize that two sites recruiting for the same trial may need very different services.

Active seekers make the best candidates. Our approach unlocks demand in each geographic market by attracting people who are actively using digital media to look for help with a condition. Even when re-engaging with an older database of prospects, all C6 referrals are in some way actively requesting information about clinical trials and help for a particular indication. Our intuitive referral management platform automates recruitment by enabling lead delivery, tracking, calling, texting, and more.

For sites with limited operational capacity, C6 offers call validated referrals (CVRs), which incorporate web qualification and contact center validation. C6 representatives make initial contact, verify information, and transfer referrals as appropriate based on each patient’s fit, intent, motivation, and interest in participation.

CVRs offer sites a highly efficient path to enrollment while minimizing the pre-screening time required of their in-house recruiting staff.

  1. Incentive Alignment, Performance Tracking, and Transparency

There are two predominant sponsor-funded marketing and recruitment models available to clinical research sites and networks:

  • The Sponsor-Funded Central Campaign “Free Leads” Model; and
  • The Local Advertising Budget Model

Each of these approaches comes with major drawbacks for research sites. In both cases, sites have little or no control over recruiting and typically recover very little for their operating costs

While often perceived as “Free Leads,” the one-size-fits-all central campaign approach that is used in these cases has proven to be largely ineffective at delivering specifically what an individual site needs. Many sites and site networks have also learned that these leads come with the high operational/labor costs associated with  contacting many leads to enroll only a few..

The sponsor-funded Local Advertising Budget Model also comes with several constraints. To successfully identify and enroll qualified patients through this approach, sites need to have customer acquisition and lead management domain expertise. But that expertise is extremely hard to develop when funds are allocated, with almost no long-term predictability, in drips and drabs of $5K to $10K. 

We founded C6 to offer clinical research sites a better, more balanced option. Our unique, shared-risk model facilitates vendor-client alignment and a balanced partnership with common objectives and KPIs. The benefits include:

  • Aligned Interests: C6 takes the financial risk to deliver candidates. Our clients only pay for referrals actually delivered to each site. We mutually determine the definition of a referral. Clients do not have a long-term obligation and can cancel at any time. Combined, that incents C6 to focus on long-term successful partnerships versus short-term financial gain.
  • Quick and Easy Start: No guaranteed payments, fixed costs, or setup charges. 
  • Flexible Design: Real-time campaign adjustments are based on evolving data. C6 tracks the full funnel and identifies bottlenecks and appropriate interventions. There are no long-term commitments.
  • Predictable, Scalable, and Repeatable Results: The C6 model provides predictable and repeatable results across indications, enabling us to forecast and benchmark future performance and costs. With that knowledge, it becomes easier for sites to justify additional investments in recruitment.
  • Transparency and Visibility: Performance tracking provides transparency to clients (sponsors and sites) and informs C6 about where interventions and reallocations are necessary. C6 provides unprecedented visibility into recruitment performance and helps position sites and sponsors to achieve their cost-per-patient target and accelerate enrollment for their studies.

Burned out on expensive and ineffective patient recruitment? Give C6 a try.

C6 combines our unique methodology with a proven process, domain expertise, and technology to offer clinical researchers a cost-effective way to maximize their recruitment efforts.

We draw upon decades of performance marketing and customer acquisition experience to partner with clinical trial sites. We’re so confident in our service that we will create and launch recruitment campaigns with no fixed or up-front costs to you.

If you would like to know more about our services or platform, contact us to schedule a meeting.