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Our pharma client was planning a real-world study to investigate the use of their treatment for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). They sought Ashfield Healthcare Communications’ expertise in recruiting the target number of patients, which was a challenge considering the lower compensation compared to regular randomised controlled trials (RCTs). They also needed strategies to help maintain motivation within the client team, pharmacy staff and investigating GPs over an extended study period.



The launch event was attended by local celebrities with asthma and COPD, and a touring roadshow around the city of Manchester, UK was conducted to raise awareness of the study. Our teams of creative, digital and scientific experts developed advertising materials in a variety of media, including print (posters, banners, flyers, newspaper advertising and branded pharmacy bags) and digital (TV screens for GP surgeries, a website, radio advertising and social media). Our medical communications team also designed innovative advertising methods, such as a bus wrap and branded beer mats. For the client’s offices, we provided an interactive recruitment target thermometer poster, motivational posters and lapel badges. Our medical writers also created a monthly newsletter for the investigating GPs to facilitate progress of the trial.



The recruitment materials were well received by all stakeholders. The recruitment target for the COPD arm of the study has been reached, and the asthma arm is tracking ahead of schedule based on learnings from the COPD arm. We were able to negotiate significant discounts and maximise return on investment because of our positive relationships with third-party vendors, and we tracked recruitment figures against activities to determine which activities were most cost-effective.


How this helped patients

Real-world RCTs are generally considered reliable, as they account for adherence and polypharmacy. This study can thus provide useful data for healthcare professionals to inform treatment decisions for patients with asthma and COPD. We used our local knowledge to recommend appropriate placement and types of patient-focused advertising, which helped us achieve our target recruitment rate and include the most appropriate patients in the study, thereby supporting validity of the study. Ashfield Healthcare Communications maintains a strong relationship with the client’s patient recruitment team and have been asked to showcase our work to a procurement contact interested in wider patient recruitment activities, which can help us continue to support valuable research studies that can improve patients’ health outcomes.



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