3 Strategies For Clinical Study Recruitment:
How To Get Medical Trial Patient Referrals From Local Doctors

Reader Digital   •  February 1, 2024

Are you struggling to recruit patients for your clinical study? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many medical trial organizers face challenges in finding participants, which ultimately affects the success of their research. But there’s hope for boosting patient recruitment, and it lies within the power of doctor referrals.

Let’s cover 2 effective strategies for getting medical trial patient referrals from doctors, and 1 strategy to expand recruitment even further.

First, we will explore the importance of establishing strong relationships with healthcare professionals. Building trust and rapport with doctors allows for open communication and a greater likelihood of patient referrals. We’ll provide actionable tips on how to develop, strengthen, and enable these relationships to create win-win situations for both parties involved.

Next, we’ll explore how to create a system of printed educational materials and website assets that enables doctor referrals by subtracting points of friction. By equipping doctors with efficient cross-platform tools to educate qualified patients about your clinical trial, you facilitate a higher quantity of referrals that are both confident and informed. We’ll discuss strategy and best practices for creating compelling print materials, landing page systems, and support marketing assets that effectively communicate the valuable benefits of participation.

Last, we’ll examine the direct-to-patient recruiting possibilities you have available through clinical trial digital marketing strategies. From leveraging local SEO to utilizing targeted medical advertising campaigns through PPC, we’ll explore various digital strategies that can amplify your recruitment efforts.

The importance of clinical study recruitment

Clinical study recruitment is a critical aspect of any medical trial. Without a sufficient number of participants, the validity and reliability of the research can be compromised. Furthermore, delays in recruitment can lead to increased costs, missed deadlines, and potentially even the termination of the study.

Challenges in medical trial patient referrals

One of the major hurdles in clinical study recruitment is the difficulty in obtaining patient referrals from local doctors. Doctors are often busy with their own patient load and may not have the time or resources to actively refer patients to clinical trials. Additionally, there may be a lack of awareness among doctors regarding ongoing trials or the benefits of participation.

Another contributing factor is the potential lack of awareness among doctors about the existence of ongoing trials or the advantageous aspects of patient participation. Overcoming these challenges requires targeted efforts to enhance communication and collaboration between medical professionals and the clinical research community, fostering a more seamless and efficient process of clinical study recruitment.

Strategy 1: Creating win-win relationships with local doctors

Establishing strong relationships with healthcare professionals is crucial for obtaining patient referrals. When doctors trust and respect your organization, they are more likely to refer patients to your clinical trial. Building these relationships takes time and effort, but the payoff can be significant.

To develop strong relationships with local doctors, start by reaching out and introducing yourself and your research. Offer to provide educational materials and resources that they can share with their patients. Make an effort to attend local medical conferences or events where you can network with doctors and discuss your research in person.

Once you have established a connection, nurture the relationship by maintaining regular communication. Keep doctors updated on the progress of your trial and any new developments. Show gratitude for their referrals by acknowledging their contribution and providing feedback on patient outcomes.

By cultivating these win-win relationships, you can create a network of doctors who actively refer patients to your clinical trial, ensuring a steady stream of potential participants.

Strategy 2: Connect print materials with digital assets to enable referral conversions

One effective way to facilitate patient referrals from doctors is by providing them with printed educational materials and digital assets that make it easy for them to refer qualified patients. By equipping doctors with the necessary tools, you remove friction in the referral process and increase the likelihood of successful conversions.

Printed materials such as brochures, pamphlets, and posters can be distributed to doctors’ offices, allowing them to educate their patients about the benefits of participating in your clinical trial. These materials should be visually appealing, concise, and highlight key information such as eligibility criteria, potential risks, and compensation.

In addition to print materials, it’s essential to create a dedicated landing page or website that doctors can direct their patients to. This landing page should provide detailed information about the trial, including frequently asked questions, contact information, and a clear call-to-action for interested patients to express their interest.

To further support the referral process, consider implementing a support marketing strategy that includes email campaigns, social media promotion, and targeted online advertising. These efforts can help amplify the reach of your clinical trial and increase the chances of attracting qualified participants.

By seamlessly connecting print materials with digital assets, you empower doctors to refer patients with confidence, knowing that their patients have access to comprehensive information about your clinical trial.

Strategy 3: Clinical trial digital marketing strategies for direct-to-patient recruiting

While doctor referrals are valuable, it’s also important to explore direct-to-patient recruiting strategies through clinical trial digital marketing. By leveraging various digital marketing techniques, you can reach a wider audience and attract potential participants who may not have been initially identified by doctors.

One effective strategy is to optimize your online presence through local search engine optimization (SEO). By targeting specific keywords related to your clinical trial and location, you can improve your website’s visibility in search engine results, making it easier for interested patients to find you.

Another powerful digital marketing tool is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. By running targeted advertising campaigns on platforms like Google Ads or social media platforms, you can reach specific demographics and geographic locations, ensuring that your clinical trial is seen by the right audience.

Additionally, consider utilizing social media platforms to raise awareness about your clinical trial. Create engaging content that educates and informs potential participants about the benefits of participation. Encourage social sharing and engagement to expand your reach even further.

By implementing clinical trial digital marketing strategies, you can complement doctor referrals and significantly boost patient recruitment for your study.

Tools and resources for clinical study recruitment

To support your clinical study recruitment efforts, there are various tools and resources available. These include patient recruitment software, which can streamline the recruitment process by automating tasks such as patient screening and follow-up. Additionally, there are online platforms and databases specifically designed to connect clinical trial organizers with potential participants.

It’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest research and best practices in clinical study recruitment. Attend conferences, workshops, and webinars focused on recruitment strategies to learn from experts in the field. Networking with other medical trial organizers can also provide valuable insights and collaboration opportunities.

Best practices for maintaining relationships with local doctors

Building strong relationships with local doctors is an ongoing process. To ensure the longevity of these relationships, it’s important to follow best practices for maintaining communication and trust.

Regularly update doctors on the progress of your clinical trial, including any milestones or significant findings. Seek their input and feedback, showing that their opinions and expertise are valued. Express gratitude for their continued support and referrals, and consider recognizing their contributions publicly, such as through testimonials or acknowledgment on your website.

Additionally, make an effort to provide ongoing educational resources and opportunities for doctors to stay informed about clinical trials in general. This can include hosting educational events, sharing relevant research articles, or providing access to online training modules.

By actively nurturing these relationships, you can foster a network of trusted healthcare professionals who are invested in your clinical trial’s success.


Recruiting patients for clinical studies can be challenging, but by implementing effective strategies, you can overcome these hurdles and boost your recruitment efforts. Building strong relationships with local doctors, connecting print materials with digital assets, and utilizing clinical trial digital marketing strategies are all powerful tools in your recruitment toolkit.

Remember to continuously evaluate and optimize your recruitment strategies based on the feedback and data you receive. By staying proactive and adaptive, you can ensure a steady stream of qualified participants for your clinical trial, ultimately contributing to the advancement of medical research and patient care.

Next Steps:

Do you want to boost your clinical trials with more doctor referrals and direct-to-patient traffic? See how we helped Dr. Bari from Synergy Research overflow new research study inquiries with 100% growth in organic traffic in under 100 days.

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