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Indegene's AI/ML-based geo-fenced targeting accelerates patient recruitment for a COVID-19 drug’s clinical trial​

The US-based biopharmaceutical company with an immunology and immuno-oncology portfolio of monoclonal antibodies, was underway with the phase 3 clinical trial for their drug, used to treat cytokine storm, in newly hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

With AI/ML applications, digital strategies and medical data mining, Indegene helped the biopharma accelerate patient enrollments and improve patient engagement and retention through the trial, using wider reach, precise targeting and multi-lingual campaigns.

Urgent need to increase the number of relevant trial participants was challenged by the timing of the campaign

Owing to a mandate by the FDA, the biopharma desired to quickly increase the number of trial participants in a short window of time. The clinical trial team faced the arduous task to filter out relevant trial volunteers from the high volumes of non-relevant website traffic due to generic interest in COVID-19. Building credibility with patients and caregivers to participate in the trial and driving awareness amongst ~17,000 Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) who specialized in pulmonology, critical care, internal medicine, and infectious disease respectively for this clinical trial was also important as HCPs play a vital role in influencing relevant patients to participate in the trial across the shortlisted 15 sites. To add to the challenge, the ongoing US Presidential elections imposed promotional restrictions for the trial. This was further amplified by the pandemic situation where the HCPs were overstretched treating huge volumes of COVID-19 patients.

To help the biopharma company meet these objectives, we adopted a two-pronged solutions framework that included:

Driving HCP awareness and recommendation with omnichannel marketing strategies
Digital patient recruitment engine to enroll eligible clinical trial participants

Data-driven hyper-local outreach campaigns using geo-fencing strategies helped influence a wider pool of relevant HCPs

We augmented the biopharma’s traditional CRO model with effective digital strategies to enable precise and effective targeting, by implementing a geofenced digital engagement framework within 50 miles of trial sites and created a digitally-profiled potential HCPs pool. The geofenced framework comprised two components that are explained in the chart below:

How it works Benefits
Geo fenced marketingSets a virtual boundary around the hospital in which certain rules are applied when a potential HCP enters or leaves and the messaging is pushed accordinglyHelps in identifying the right target patient pool as the reach is limited to HCPs within the set boundary
National Provider Identifier (NPI) level trackingIdentifies the target HCPs within the segments and the messaging is available only to those HCPs, within the catchment areas of identified hospitalsActivates personalized messaging journey leading to improved mind share among HCPs

Locate the right audience at the right time and right place with Geofenced Digital Marketing

Locate the right audience at the right time and right place with geofenced digital marketing with example of ads for patients and HCPs

Targeting HCPs with the right message at the right time is extremely crucial given their hectic schedules and their low attention span on non-work-related communication they receive from various sources. The timing of the campaign colliding with the election campaigns added to the challenge of low attention spans. To meet this objective, as reflected in the above chart, on identifying the target pool, we activated hyperlocal digital campaigns in English and the local language, Spanish, on search and social platforms with programmatic, lookalike, and re-targeting formats for better reach and engagement among a diverse HCP pool.

Using the Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) model, we prepared a comprehensive messaging journey leveraging preapproved content provided by the biopharma. Identifying and implementing extremely precise Key Performance Indicators (KPI) measures ensures the campaigns are regularly optimized to drive engagement. We considered a few examples of the KPIs such as HCPs’ interest to know more about the drug trial, their interest in understanding the details about the closest site in the vicinity- so that they could guide the eligible patients to participate in the trial, and their request for more information about the drug.

An omnichannel digital recruitment approach helped build trust with and onboard the right participants for the clinical trial

We crafted an omnichannel digital awareness campaign and a foolproof patient screening framework for the 15 sites identified through geo-fencing. We used NLP algorithms to analyze patient interactions on the landing pages, their clinical information, and their attitude toward the trial to arrive at patient motivation to enroll for the trial.

Further, the landing page and information storage, built on AWS services infrastructure, was made HIPAA compliant and tested for cyber security to ensure compliance and patient trust. The landing page was made user-friendly with a seamless experience across devices to avoid dropouts. For example, a chatbot was enabled to interact with the patient and fill missing details during enrolment. The site experience was transparent and patients could see and provide consent to what information about them is stored by the trial site for future use.

As a result, the trial landing page received over 17,000 weekly unique visitors and qualified 7% of patients through a primary screening process, resulting in 460 participants qualified for secondary screening.


Weekly unique visitors to the trial landing page


Participants qualified for secondary screening


Conversion to secondary qualification

Indegene has been a great partner in our clinical trial recruiting process for our drug. They were able to go live quickly with their digital marketing campaign, helping us achieve the clinical trial size requirement within our timeline. They understood the specific challenges that we faced and utilized their IP to effectively target potential trial participants and qualify them through a primary screening process.

- Chief Commercial Officer

Data -driven and patient-centric approach enabled the biopharma company become future-ready for higher scale and complex trials

Patient recruitment and engagement was an unprecedented challenge this US biopharma faced in the current clinical trial. However, with the geo-fenced digital engagement strategy for both HCPs and patients, we helped the organization successfully meet its patient enrollment targets for the trial within the stipulated timelines provided to comply with FDA’s requirement and increase the number of patients recruited for the drug trial.

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