How to leverage data to boost atopic dermatitis trial registrations

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, relapsing inflammatory skin condition affecting 15-20% of children and 1-3% of adults worldwide (and as high as 7-14% of adults in North America and Europe). As cases of atopic dermatitis continues to rise, it has become one of the most common inflammatory skin diseases – and yet, no cure exists, and there is still an unmet medical need for effective, targeted therapeutic options for those with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis.

With 500+ dermatological clinical trials underway, there is intense competition to find eligible patients. However, approximately 86% of all clinical trials experience delays due to recruitment issues and failed pre-screenings.

Recruitment is therefore fundamental to the success of clinical trials and has only become more challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, with the rise of the digital era and growing interest in medicine, more patients than ever are using the internet to search for medical and health-related information.

At Clariness, we use a multichannel approach to reach patients and have digitally recruited patients with atopic dermatitis, and other dermatological conditions, for studies globally over the last 10+ years. With our experience and expertise of atopic dermatitis patient recruitment, we know which channels and techniques provide the best engagement and enrollment numbers. In this blog, we share a summary of our digital recruitment findings from the last 10 years, including:

The top performing digital recruitment channels

Various digital channels play a significant role in recruiting patients for atopic dermatitis studies, with many ways to measure their levels of success. While the “Rule of 7” – which suggests that consumers need to be exposed to advertising at least 7x before making a purchase –  was invented in 1930, it still has a place in today’s world. This is why many advertising and recruitment companies still report their exposure and engagement metrics. While exposure and engagement is critical to patient recruitment, digital recruitment has provided the tools to record conversions as a direct response to advertisements. That’s why at Clariness, we believe the greatest metric of success is conversion, and furthermore, the cost of each conversion.

Using our data from 10+ recent international atopic dermatitis campaigns, we compared channel performance in North America and Europe to show which channels provided the lowest cost per randomized patient (Figure 1).

Cost per randomized patient by channel

Figure 1. Cost per randomized patient per channel in North American and Europe based on 10+ atopic dermatitis campaigns (data source: Clariness).

Comparing several channels we leverage to engage and recruit patients with atopic dermatitis, Google Search offers the best Return On Investment (ROI) in North America, while Facebook Ads provide the best ROI in Europe. Although the financial figures behind these channels have been redacted for commercial sensitivity, it’s important to note that while Facebook Ads in North America offers a close second to Google Search, the cost of recruiting a patient in North America via Facebook Ads is more than double the cost of recruitment through the same channel in Europe. One reason for this difference could be that active monthly Facebook users are higher in Europe than in North America (420 million vs. 325 million, respectively in Q2 2021; Statista, 2021). Still, North America and Europe generate 72.25% of Facebook’s revenue and is a valuable and effective channel to reach patients.

While our data shows broad differences in cost per patient per channel between North America and Europe, it is also important to consider country-level and demographic differences in social media and internet usage, as well as atopic dermatitis prevalence/incidence rates per country.

Beyond numbers – Leveraging data to boost efficiency

While this data provides a valuable guide to cost per patient by channel in North America and Europe, channel performance is also impacted and driven by other factors, including:

Patient population demographics

Different countries have different preferences for social media platforms and this also differs across genders and age groups. For example, older people are more active on Facebook; younger people on Twitter; and women tend to search more for health information (about 86% of our responses to atopic dermatitis Facebook marketing tends to be women). Although we do not specifically target women with advertising, the Facebook algorithm optimizes for best results.

Geographic variation in atopic dermatitis prevalence

There is wide geographic variation in atopic dermatitis prevalence between and within different countries; knowing this allows you to choose which sites and areas will provide the best results.

Target countries and cities

Different countries have different preferences for social media platforms and this also differs across genders and age groups, so it is essential to know the patient population to effectively target your study population.

At Clariness, we believe it’s important to consider and leverage all data sources and more when building patient recruitment campaigns to boost efficiency and increase trial registrations.

Data-driven optimizations boost clinical trial registrations

In addition to leveraging channel performance data (in conjunction with other key factors), we also show how data-driven optimization can significantly boost conversion rates and clinical trial registrations. For all advertising campaigns, we make sure to continuously monitor and review ongoing performance to react in real-time to challenges, as well as to leverage that data when building future recruitment campaigns for trials with similar target populations and regions.

The importance of A/B testing in atopic dermatitis recruitment campaigns

Depending on whether the recruitment campaign is run through our Active Recruitment or ClinLife® Registry service (the latter of which doesn’t require approval from country-specific ethical committees), Clariness tests and reviews engagement and conversion rates across several areas, including:

With patient-centricity at the core of Clariness, we ensure that all advertising uses diverse imagery and easy-to-understand wording to better connect with patients. By continuously adapting advertisements in favor of higher performing creative ads, and investing more in top performing sites, platforms, and channels, we observe dramatic boosts in both clickthrough rates and screener completions.

This leads patients to our atopic dermatitis clinical trial landing page with our personalized online screener and trial registration forms.

The result of continuously optimizing recruitment campaigns

A case study

By leveraging our historic and real-time performance data, we are able to see 10-30x increases in conversion performance. For example, during a recent atopic dermatitis campaign (Figure 2), we saw an explosion in improved conversion rates starting at Week 26, and peaking at Week 29/30, as a direct result of continuous monitoring and optimization.

Number of Completed Screeners and Study Registrations over time

Number of Completed Screeners and Study Registrations over time

Figure 2. Number of Completed screeners and study registrations over time during an atopic dermatitis campaign.

During the initial weeks of the campaign, we see modest registration numbers, with dips around the holidays. However, by reinvesting in the campaign post-holidays and deploying optimized advertising materials via the highest performing channels, we created a clear boost in online screening and study registrations.

Clariness’ experience with patient recruitment allows us to take an agile approach considering seasonal changes in patient motivation and adjusting our methods and resources accordingly.

The future of patient recruitment

During the COVID-19 pandemic, clinical trial enrollment plummeted, while other trials were put on hold or discontinued. However, more individuals are now online than ever. With increasing and widespread internet usage, digital recruitment is no longer the future of patient recruitment, but the present reality. We know how to leverage historic, real-time, and third-party data in the creation and optimization of recruitment campaigns that are essential for the success of your clinical trial.

We show how various digital channels perform differently in separate regions, as well as the advertisement creatives themselves. By continually collecting and analyzing data on our methods and campaigns, we know how important it is to ensure that data collection and access is at the core of your recruitment efforts. Equally, by partnering with Clariness, a data-driven and -informed patient recruitment expert, we can help accelerate your clinical trial enrollment exponentially.

To learn more about our patient recruitment expertise within atopic dermatitis, visit To speak with one of our patient recruitment experts, click here. Leverage our 16+ years of experience and data analysis in patient recruitment to make your clinical trial a success.

Want to know how we can support your atopic dermatitis patient recruitment?

Whether you’re planning, or actively recruiting, we can support your trials to ensure you meet your atopic dermatitis enrollment targets. Simply get in touch with one of our experts, and we will review your study’s requirements, and develop a strategy to enroll more patients.