TV ADVERTISING FOR HEALTHCARE
Patient Recruiting – A 15-Year Success Story
For more than 20 years, Derm Research, in Austin, Texas, has been a leading dermatology research center in the U.S., specializing in paid clinical studies helping to find treatments for a variety of skin conditions. Derm also specializes in healthy skin research studies.
Many independent clinical research centers use television and radio advertising to recruit patients for clinical trials. In 2004 Derm was referred to me by their IT support provider. Frink Inc. Advertising was the IT company’s advertising agency. When Derm was referred to my agency, they were using an advertising agency that specialized in patient recruiting for clinical drug studies. Derm was dissatisfied with their agency because of the expense and the ineffectiveness of their patient recruiting advertising. Also, the agency imposed its own call center and lead tracking system which Derm found cumbersome.
I proposed a simplified and direct approach to Derm’s patient recruiting advertising. Derm would use their own staff to answer calls and report results directly to me. I was the media buyer. I received information from the staff on how many calls they received, what times calls came in, and what stations and programs the callers were watching or listening to when they saw Derm’s commercial. This data showed which times and programs generated the most calls for each study. The programs and airtimes that were most effective in generating calls weren’t always the ones with the largest audience.
Qualified prospective patients for each of these studies have unique profiles in terms of age and gender. Prospective patients for some studies are children and adolescents, so we target advertising to parents. Frequently wives and girlfriends call on behalf their significant other. Studies that we ran campaigns for on a regular basis were acne, eczema, psoriasis, and actinic keratosis.
Over a period of several months, using the call data, we developed repeatable one- and two-week campaigns that were effective in generating calls for the studies listed above and a few other less frequent studies.
During the past 15 years, we have refined and updated the campaigns as needed. During this time, Derm Research has had the normal amount of staff turnover you’d expect within any medium size organization but I’m still the media buyer maintaining Derm Research’s institutional experience and success in managing their patient recruiting advertising.
The simplified and direct approach I proposed in 2004 has been effective for more than 15 years. The effectiveness of Derm Research’s patient recruiting advertising has been one of the keys to earning the trust of pharmaceutical companies to administer trials and become a leader in complex, early phase Dermatology Studies.