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New Quintiles initiative saves investigative sites the time, and cost, of patient recruitment advertising

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When an investigative site does not have enough potential subjects within its own patient base for a particular trial it has taken on, one of the tasks it faces is placing ads in local media outlets.

Traditionally, this has involved producing with the ad or hiring talent to do so, obtaining IRB approval for the messages in the ad, determining in which newspaper, TV and/or radio station the ad should run and at what time of day, and then negotiating with those media outlets—often with less than stellar results. On top of all that, sites have had to shoulder the costs of the media buys, invoicing the sponsor for reimbursement months later.

“It’s a horrible process,” said Jim Kremidas, Quintiles’ VP and global head of patient recruitment. “There’s no consistent branding of the study, there’s all that submitting of invoices for all costs, and it’s so time consuming for the sites. And, let’s face it, some aren’t very good at advertising or negotiating media buys.”

To alleviate this added site burden, Quintiles has launched Quintiles Trial Enrollment Accelerator, a website designed to streamline and make fool-proof the ad-buying process for sites. 

According to Kremidas, it works like this: Sites log in and gain access to already designed and IRB-approved advertisements (print, radio and TV), each of which leaves space for the sites to add their own contact information. They can pick and choose ads as well as the times and places those ads will run in their local media outlets, thus creating a media campaign themselves. A professional media buyer is always available to provide one-on-one feedback about their choices. Or, if they choose, they can let the media planner do all the work.

The invoicing process is eliminated, which is a relief for sites financially, said Kremidas, adding that with a professional media buyer negotiating the buys rather than the sites, Quintiles also saves money.

Making it easier for sites financially is key, said Tracy Blumenfeld, co-founder, president and chief executive of RapidTrials, which sets up infrastructure for sites and helps train them. Plus, it could elevate the quality of the advertising.

“Sites will sometimes under-optimize their selection for media because of cash flow issues,” she said. “True, they may not know what the best media buy is due to lack of expertise, but even if they did know, if the best media buy required them to pay out $5,000 and then wait to get reimbursed—which could take three months—they might pick a $125 print ad in a sub-optimal outlet instead.”

Quintiles ran a pilot of the new site last year for two studies. According to the web site’s media planner, about half of the sites who availed themselves of the technology liked the process of choosing ads to tailor a media plan to their market. Another 40% opted to have the planner handle the whole process for them. The remaining 10% said they wanted to keep doing it themselves, hiring the talent, negotiating the buys and placing the ads, then submitting invoices.

Kremidas said Quintiles plans to use the site for about 10 studies this year.

—Suz Redfearn

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