Clinical Trial Matching Services: A Proactive Approach to Patient Recruitment

April Schultz
Content Marketing Manager, Forte
November 12th, 2015

In an ideal world, all patients would actively seek out applicable clinical trials and all sites would meet their study accrual goals in a timely manner. Unfortunately, this ideal is not typically the reality. Patient recruitment is one of the most difficult parts of conducting a study and low accrual is a leading cause for clinical trial closure.

Because patient recruitment can be a struggle, clinical trial matching services attempt to ease the process by closing the gap between patient and trial site.

What is a Clinical Trial Matching Service?

A clinical trial matching service is a platform that works to increase clinical trial awareness and expedite recruitment. Similar to a dating site, patients seeking a clinical trial enter key demographic and health information into an interface. Based on this information, the service matches each patient with the most suitable studies currently enrolling, providing basic study information. There are many different types of clinical trial matching services, including those that specialize in a specific disease and those that span across multiple therapeutic areas.

While a matching service does not replace an eligibility questionnaire, the first couple of steps have been taken for you. Not only is the patient now aware your trial exists, but she already knows she may be eligible based on information provided through the service.

Fox Trial Finder

One of the better-known matching services is the Fox Trial Finder.

In 1991, actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, joining the near one million Americans affected by the disease.1 In an effort to bridge the gap between the Parkinson’s community and the clinical trials that need them,1 Fox began the Fox Trial Finder.

In December of 2014, Fox Trial Finder reached a milestone of 40,000 registrants and continues to grow. The service now has over 51,000 registrants in their database.

Through this matching service, registrants create a profile and are provided a list of clinical trials matching their provided demographics. Registrants are able to anonymously contact trial teams outside of the system and can opt in to have applicable clinical trials sent to them via email.

Fox Trial Finder also provides educational materials to teach participants what they can expect from the clinical trial process, including articles like, “What is a Clinical Trial” that explains the types of studies, trial phases and more.

Site Involvement

Some matching services, like Fox Trial Finder, allow you create a “trial team” so your site can post protocol information through the service. Your trial team is notified about possible patient-trial matches and can be contacted by patients if they’re interested in continuing the screening process.

Other services, such as EmergingMed, partner with organizations for a fee. EmergingMed and like-organizations host privately branded services that provide direct access to registration portals on your organization’s website, making it easy for participants to find and enter necessary information. Organizations partnering with these services are given the opportunity to ‘feature’ their studies during a patient’s initial search, potentially distinguishing their trials from a national database. In efforts to maintain a free service for participants, EmergingMed receives monthly subscription fees for processing phone or web-based inquiries for partnering organizations.2

As there are multiple options and ways to become involved, it’s best to decide what is most feasible and profitable for your organization based on its size and patient recruitment budget.

The Bigger Message

Public awareness and patient-centricity:

Even if you aren’t interested in partnering with these services, it’s important to note the role they play in improving patient awareness for clinical research. They work to teach the basics of what clinical trials entail and enable patients to discover study information. As an industry often plagued with negative media attention, awareness is key to garnering a more positive response from potential trial participants. In an effort to continue spreading the message about clinical research and hopefully improve patient recruitment within the industry, simply promoting matching services via social media or your organization’s website can make a difference and could help you connect with new patients.

Have you used a trial matching service before? What was your experience? Did it help enroll more patients on your trials? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Learn More

To learn more about improving your site’s patient recruitment efforts, read our free eBook,“Patient Recruitment in Clinical Trials: Steps to Develop a Successful Enrollment Strategy.“

  1. The Wall Street Journal: Services Match Patients with Clinical Trials


2 thoughts on “Clinical Trial Matching Services: A Proactive Approach to Patient Recruitment

  1. There is also a non-profit organization, that matches participants to studies.

    1. Hi Carrie,

      Thanks for your insight.

      There are many matching services worth noting that I didn’t cover in the article, including ResearchMatch. Feel free to continue extending my list!


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