May 20th, 2024


6 Key Clinical Trial Metrics to Evaluate Your Patient Recruitment Campaigns

By OneStudyTeam

6 Key Clinical Trial Metrics to Evaluate Your Patient Recruitment Campaigns

Sponsors who evaluate the right recruitment metrics during patient recruitment campaigns set their trials up to meet enrollment goals, prevent recruitment delays, and maximize ROI. Why is that important? Patient recruitment is expensive, accounting for 32% of study costs. Regular review of recruitment progress also ensures you stay ahead of potential barriers to enrollment, positioning you to implement interventions and strategies to enhance recruitment efforts. Additionally, monitoring clinical trial recruitment metrics supports patient centricity, ensuring both perceived burdens and objective barriers don’t block interested and eligible patients from enrolling in a trial. Here are 6 key clinical trial metrics to evaluate your patient recruitment campaigns.

(1) How many referrals from each of your recruitment sources are making it all the way to informed consent?

A reasonable measure for whether a vendor’s referrals are high-quality is that they at least make it to screening and therefore consent to participate in the trial. That means that they were:

  • contactable;
  • qualified enough based on pre-screening;
  • willing to participate. 

As an example, take a look at the chart below in StudyTeam that features valuable insights into recruitment vendor campaign performance. Per data on Recruitment Vendor A in our Referral Performance - Trial Overview report, the vast majority of referrals from Referral Vendor A failed during pre-screening, indicating a lack of high-quality referrals.

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With this kind of metric analysis, you have the data to back a shift in recruitment decisions, as well as to support a discussion about the performance of this specific recruitment vendor’s tactics. From here, you can work together to optimize their recruitment strategy while enrollment is ongoing, to avoid compromising your budget and your timeline.

(2) If referrals from recruitment sources are failing pre-screening, why?

As discussed above, there is an expectation for referral vendors to find and recruit eligible patients that are willing to participate in a trial. If only a fraction of the referrals from your various sources are making it through to consent, it is crucial to be able to investigate further in order to determine the specific reasons why those patients are not passing pre-screening.

The example below shows a graph from our Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria Analysis report. In StudyTeam for Sponsors, you can filter the data in this report to evaluate the number of  referrals from each of their recruitment sources that are failing individual inclusion and exclusion criteria. In the chart below, you can see that referrals from Referral Vendor A are failing Inclusion Criteria 1, 2, and 3 at a much higher rate than the other referral vendors.

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This indicates that Referral Vendor A is likely not targeting the right patient population in their efforts. With visibility into exactly which criteria referrals are failing, you can use this data to have productive conversations with your vendors around how to better optimize the strategy or whether to consider altering the protocol design. 

(3) Which specific mediums and campaigns are performing best across all of your referral sources? 

Most referral vendors will use multiple marketing mediums to recruit patients, such as a combination of Facebook ads and paid search ads. When you track the effectiveness of campaigns across each of these mediums, you can better evaluate which ones should be prioritized to reach higher numbers of high-quality patients.

Our Referral Performance - Trial Overview report offers an example, below. Note how the Facebook campaign from this referral vendor is recruiting drastically more patients than the other campaigns run by the same referral vendor.

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This type of insight sets you up to prioritize a certain medium, such as Facebook campaigns, for this trial, and even to consider it as a top option to test across other trials.

(4) How are sites recruiting their own patients compared to referral vendors and other recruitment efforts? 

Depending on the protocol, sites often have a very thorough understanding of their patient population and are able to recruit and enroll patients at a faster rate than external recruitment methods. Therefore it’s important to be able to monitor and assess sites’ own recruitment capabilities and compare them against external vendors’ recruitment efforts. This allows you to determine the best use of recruitment dollars. This evaluation can also be an effective way to identify high-performing sites in consideration for future trials.

In our Referral Performance - Trial Overview report, it’s easy to assess the volume and quality of patients sourced from sites’ own methods compared to external referral efforts. In the example below, sites are not only recruiting more potential patients into the trial when compared to external referral vendors, but more of those site-sourced patients are moving all the way through to consent.

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This visibility enables you to assess if you will be able to rely on sites to reach enrollment goals solely from recruiting patients from their own methods.  

(5) How are sites actioning referrals from your recruitment methods?

Are your sites acting quickly on the referrals they receive? Rapid followup with referred patients is one strategic way sites can improve clinical trial workflows while increasing enrollment. Not only do sites save time looking for net new patients (ideally, they have referrals streaming straight into their databases) but they engage patients while interest is high, increasing the chances of patients staying engaged.

In our Referral Performance - Site Detail report, sponsors can see granular details about site engagement with referrals. For example, in the graph below, site #1234 is delinquent in actioning referrals – almost all of the referrals they’ve received are sitting unacknowledged or unactioned. 


Visibility into referral acknowledgement presents an opportunity for you to determine if this site needs additional support for actioning referrals – is there a staffing issue or workflow barrier that is preventing them from taking sufficient actions on referrals?

(6) How are individual sites moving referrals through to informed consent compared to others? 

How well is each individual site moving referrals through the enrollment funnel, from acknowledgement, to pre-screening, to informed consent? How does recruitment progress at each site compare to progress at the others on your trial?

In our Referral Performance - Site Detail report example below, each site is receiving a comparable number of referred patients. However, the first site appears to be discontinuing patients during pre-screening at a higher rate. 


Site-level details can indicate challenges such as: A specific site is experiencing confusion around patient pre-screening and eligibility criteria. This presents an opportunity to reeducate the site team on the protocol to ensure they are able to move more patients to informed consent and screening.

Gain access to referral performance reporting and start evaluating patient recruitment with key clinical trial metrics.

Now you have a list of top recruitment metrics to monitor:

  • For sponsor recruitment strategists: How many referrals from each of your recruitment sources are making it all the way to informed consent?
  • For sponsor recruitment strategists: Which specific mediums and campaigns are performing best across all of your referral sources?
  • For CRAs: How are sites actioning referrals from your recruitment methods?
  • For CRAs: How are individual sites moving referrals through to informed consent compared to others?

Make sure you have the technology to regularly review those insights. Sponsors use the StudyTeam for Sponsors digital platform to not just oversee recruitment and enrollment progress across their trials, but to dig deep into actionable insights related to recruitment performance. StudyTeam enables this across all sponsor referral and recruitment tactics in one, centralized place.

With access to extensive recruitment and referral reporting in StudyTeam for Sponsors, you can easily track the clinical trial metrics you need to optimize campaigns with your recruitment vendors and to optimize workflows with your site teams. Ultimately, this enables you to complete recruitment and enrollment on time and on budget, to drive high-quality referrals to sites and reduce unnecessary recruitment effort, and to engage with eligible and interested patients in a timely manner to facilitate the care they need.

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