March 14, 2022

Ross Jackson

In this episode of the Life Science Success podcast I interviewed Ross Jackson - Literally, The Man Who Wrote the Book on Patient Recruitment for Clinical Trials using Facebook Ads.     We discuss everything from SEO to current and future...

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In this episode of the Life Science Success podcast I interviewed Ross Jackson - Literally, The Man Who Wrote the Book on Patient Recruitment for Clinical Trials using Facebook Ads.  


We discuss everything from SEO to current and future challenges in patient recruitment.  

Please check out our Life Science Success Resources.  You will find tools that will support growing companies and books for authors I have interviewed.  


Ross Jackson



Don Davis PhD, MBA: Welcome to the life science success podcast. My name is Don Davis and I'm a consultant in life sciences. I help companies scale and manage complexity and increase performance today on the life science success podcast. I have Ross Jackson, Ross Jackson is literally the guy who wrote the book on patient recruitment on Facebook.

So welcome Ross.

Ross Jackson: Thank you for having me here.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. Thanks so much. Can you tell the listeners just a little bit about.

Ross Jackson: Sure. [00:01:00] So as you say, I'm literally the man who wrote the book on patient recruitment for clinical trials using Facebook ads. That's what I have on my LinkedIn profile. Um, I live in Manchester in the Northwest of England, uh, which is where I am now.

It's actually 10 o'clock in the evening here, uh, at the moment. Um, yeah. And I've, um, I've been writing about, uh, patient recruitment as my Forte's patient recruitment and retention. Uh, Giving some tips and advice on that. And since I started specializing in that several years ago,

Don Davis PhD, MBA: well, thanks so much for joining me so late at night, I, I greatly appreciate it.

Um, I know that I try and keep these at five Eastern time on, on a weekly basis, and I appreciate your flexibility in, in joining me. So, um, so it's my understanding that your initial focus was actually not patient recruitment in your career or is that.

Ross Jackson: Yes. I started off doing digital marketing, uh, back in 1998.[00:02:00]

So that was before Google existed. So I was, um, helping, I saw the internet and I thought, no, this will be useful to get involved in. So I was helping local businesses, uh, to promote them. Online by setting up websites. I actually started off building websites for local businesses. I wasn't particularly good at building the website, but I had, uh, realized that someone would need to find them.

So I was getting involved in search engine optimization in the early days. Um, in those days it wasn't Google, it was Alta Vista and things like that, but I made sure that all, all the sites I work. We'll be able to be found. Um, one of my earliest clients was actually a doctor private, private doctor's practice, which is where I did the very first patient recruitment job I did was what was back in 1998, uh, not for a trial, but it was a very similar type of thing.

And then over the years, Give out more of a specialism in healthcare. Uh, and then several years ago [00:03:00] I got a job through an agency. I was between looking freelance for myself for a long time, got a job through an agency to recruit patients for a trial that was actually originally using Google ads. Um, so I started.

Facebook advertising had sort of come, started to come, go to at the time. So I thought, well, let's try this. So we did some Facebook ads and they were miles better than the Google ads. So I then focused on that for awhile.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: So D did you find it harder to do search engine optimization before? Or do you find it harder to do search engine optimization?

Ross Jackson: I I'm not really that involved in SEL now, but I, I understand the principles. Um, and from what I, to keep in touch with several people I've met over the years. And my understanding is the basic principles are the same Google when Google came along, obviously it became mostly about inbound links. That became one of the big things.[00:04:00]

Um, and that's that sort of set the tone. So it's still. Very much like that, but if you have good content, you should attract good links. I know there's, there's a lot of things other than that, but yeah, the, I, it was easy then. It was interesting then, because there wasn't one major player in the search engine space.

So we weren't all trying to do what Google said you doing or AltaVista said, or Infoseek said, or like cost set or Yahoo slightly different because it was a directory rather than actual search engine. So yeah, there was all sorts of different things you would be doing. Uh, to try and get your websites top of the list.

Primarily it was about metadata and content and things of that nature. So I don't know if it's any easier then or easier now, but it's the basic principles I would say, remain the same. If you've got content that people will want to see [00:05:00] and find value in the search engines will reward you for.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: So, can you tell the listeners a little bit about your book?

Ross Jackson: Yes. So, um, couple of years ago I wrote the book, uh, patient recruitment for clinical trials using Facebook ads. Um, it was basically because. I've been using Facebook ads a lot. I'm not, it's not my only speciality. I'll do a lot of different things within patient agreement, but it came my, my forte. It was when I niched in, uh, at first and I thought there is no book about this.

There are books about Facebook ads to a books about patient recruitment, but in reality, when. Put my book out there, there weren't many books about patient recruitment. Either. There have been some in the early two thousands, um, and they were more academic texts. So they were, you know, expensive ones. So I thought, okay, there's a gap in the market here for, uh, me to.

You know, put my [00:06:00] knowledge into book form. Uh, I wrote the book and put it out. It actually became an Amazon best seller, very briefly, which I was quite surprised by given the, yeah. The niche nature of the subject. But yeah, so I, I, I did that and it includes tips on how to make use of Facebook and digital marketing in general, actually for patient recruitment, which I hadn't seen anywhere else.

Um, Some of the earlier books didn't well, it touched on the fact that the internet existed, but didn't really have much about the internet as being the main. It means of communication that it is today. So I thought there was a, a gap there, so I include a lot of principles. Um, so if even, I mean, the book's probably already out of date to an extent, um, it's not properly.

You could, you can read it and you'll get everything. That the principles are still there, but the way that Facebook looks is slightly different from the screenshots, and it's always evolving. Um, you [00:07:00] may have seen some news or you in the year that you can't target health-related, um, interests now on Facebook.

It was never that, that useful anyway, but it was there. So if, for example, you want to target someone with asthma, you might be able to target the asthma association or an asthma patient group, that sort of thing, as an interest, I'm not going to go into detail of what that actually means, unless you want me to.

Um, but it's. It's explained in the book as well, but it's just the, it's the behavior that people have on the internet is how you target by interests. So things have changed a bit, but actually the fundamental principles, I re-read the book again, the other day, just to see that it was still valid and the fundamental principles are all there.

It is, there are other things in there, uh, that will help people if, if they don't know much about how to target patients online.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: And was it, it is the reason why Facebook is more. Um, or better to use, [00:08:00] is it, is it more because of the way people use Facebook or is it, um, just the way that the search engine or the search capability and Facebook works as a targeting capability works?

Or w what is it that you feel makes it stronger?

Ross Jackson: I think it's a combination of facts. It's the volume of people it's mostly used. I mean, there, there are more people use Google probably, but you can't really tell. And that. All using it at once in the same way that Facebook does Facebook, Facebook's got lots of different, different users.

Um, you know, I'd say nearly half the population of the world is using it. Uh that's even now that is still the case that Facebook is the biggest search engine Tik TOK. You may have seen the news, uh, overtook it last year in terms of the number of users for the year and people who visited that tonight.

But Facebook has more. Overall. So I think the volume of people is the big, a big factor. The way people use it is also [00:09:00] another big factor. Um, people often are not thinking about clinical trials or participating in clinical trials. So when they're on scrolling Facebook, they're looking for pictures of cats or whatever it is, somebody's dinner from the day before.

And they see this activity. Oh, that's interesting. So it lodges in them. And now they might click to learn more. The other great thing with Facebook is it's shareable. So for example, if I don't have a particular condition, but I see an advert about a clinical trial for a particular condition, I can think, oh, my sister has this so I can forward it to her or alert her to it.

So it is a social medium in the sense that people do share things and they do tell other people about it. I would say one of the. When you, when you can comment on Facebook adverts and one of the single most likely comments you'll get is someone writing someone else's name to alert them to the ad. So it then [00:10:00] shows up in their feed as well.

And that's, that's another reason why Facebook is so good. Um, yeah. In terms of general, overall, I would say for digital recruitment purposes, maybe 50% of, uh, patients are recruited using Facebook. And then there's a lot. it's always been consistently the best performer in my experience and other people I've spoken to as well.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Great. I mean, it's a great sort of Testament to the fact that people leverage that platform for lots of things, you know, not just, uh, not just pictures of the cats or pictures of the night before, but, uh, but also, um, sort of, sort of researching things. I mean, I, it's funny because I, um, I more or less converted my Facebook to hobby interests years ago and dropped most everything else, uh, that, that I use it for.

Um, and so normally the [00:11:00] only time I have it open is whenever I have real downtime, which isn't, isn't all that often. Um, but yeah, it's, I mean, it definitely is a great platform for that. And I, it kind of reminds me a little bit of a past interview that I did. So there's a guy by the name of Janak. He has cloud ski.

Uh, has an AI platform that, that kind of sits on top of these social media platforms and look for signals, uh, for people that, that are having, I believe any sort of symptoms in a clinical trial. So, so that's what he's looking for. Um, but, but essentially it's just, um, looking at the data that's coming, coming back out, uh, similarly and, and.

So whenever you go through kind of a process to get started with somebody, how do you, how do they get started in terms of looking at the demographics or the ways that they might be able to use Facebook for. [00:12:00]

Ross Jackson: Yeah, well, it's based on the, uh, the trial criteria, really the inclusion exclusion criteria for the trial will be set and then it will become free presented to someone like myself and say, right, we're looking for these people.

Um, and it will usually be 18 plus or 18 to 40 or something like that. You then target those people on Facebook. Um, And then you can go very broad. Often you can just go. Like, we just want people between the ages of 18 to 50, say who live in particular areas. So you've got demographic and geographic targeting.

You can do, you can layer on the interest targeting if you wish. But the other factor, I didn't mention a second ago as to why Facebook is so good is it's brilliant learning. So when you mentioned the AI platform here, it learns very well. Uh, How people react and what sort of people to show the adverts to.

So if you set up your process well enough in the first [00:13:00] place, so you would say Ron, we to target these people, once they filled in the prescreening form, you would direct them to a, pre-screen a form for the trial, which includes probably some of the inclusion, exclusion criteria. Uh, once they have completed that, as long as you can track those people, which you should be able to do through Facebook or the main.

You can then tell Facebook, all those people who got through that, pre-screen it? Oh, the type of people I want to target. Facebook has so many thousands of data points about every one of its users. It will then look. Based on the data it receives. So the more people sign up for the trial, the better Facebook's targeting and all people who go through the pre-screening veterans targeting and they will then target people who are more like those people.

Um, so that's yeah. So once you've got the initial criteria, you need to target it, fight. You can just let Facebook run and it will do its thing and work better. There's a [00:14:00] lots of things you can do to optimize as you're going. You know, you can see, right, our particular age groups reacting better, let's target them.

Instead particular advert. The content of the advert is, is a big factor that people, people often forget that this is a, an area of targeting. It's the content of the advert. If I'm scrolling through my Facebook feed and I see adverts for what's, you know, I don't have a cat. So if I see additional cat food, I'm not going to be that interested.

Um, but if I see an advert for something that is interesting to me, I will stop and look at it. I always compare it to be like browsing magazines on a newsstand. Um, you know, I'm not interested in railway magazine, whatever it may be, but if I'm interested in particular music type musician or whatever, I'll think, ah, there's an article about that person in this week's magazine.

I'll I'll look at that one. So it's, you can target the people with the content as much as you can by the demographics or.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: [00:15:00] It's interesting. The, I guess the other question I would have is that whenever, so whenever you run across, let's say an ad, an ad to bring you into a clinical trial. Um, how does that normally look, I mean, does it say, Hey, by the way, if you have, you know, kind of plain text, you know, if you have these, uh, symptoms or this malady, you know, you might be interested in this or, um, what does it normally look.

Ross Jackson: The evidence itself usually would be something of that nature. And the there's lots of different types of ads you can do on Facebook. Facebook's always pushing their video ads. Uh, what I've found is that single image ads, the most common type of, of advert on Facebook still work better than anything else.

Um, this is on your news. So then there are other ads on Facebook and look, small texts ads, but the ones that seem to work best to what have consistently worked best or images with text on them, which are the ones you're probably most familiar with. When you scroll through Facebook, it looks [00:16:00] like a Facebook post and it will be an image with a headline and some text above it.

So that's what it would usually be. And the content would usually say something like the standard default one would be. X Y Z, or we are looking for people with certain sorts of condition, asthma to take part in a clinical trial. Uh, you can get more creative than that, but that, that's basically what you're looking for to try and self identify the people, because you only want people with a particular condition unless you're going for healthy volunteers.

But in which case, you'll say you were looking for healthy volunteers to take that. Phase one clinical trials, something like that. Um, so yeah, the content of the ad would be upfront about what you're asking for two reasons, for that really one Facebook's own regulations. They want you to be pretty direct and specific, and they don't want you to direct someone to something that isn't what it says it is on [00:17:00] there.

And also the, um, ethics committees or IRB, the institutional review boards will also have. Uh, a say in what you can, what you can actually put out there to attract people onto the trial. If it's an actual trial that you're actually promoting, for which mostly it would be, you'd have to have this ethics approval.

So again, they want you to be upfront and direct about what.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Sure. So you've also written a couple of recent LinkedIn articles. Can you tell us a little bit about, you know, what are you writing about and, and, uh, what are some of the popular, popular topics with, uh, with people that pick up things from you from LinkedIn?

Ross Jackson: Sure. So, yeah, I've been writing quite for quite a while. I've been writing my own blog and I've been putting stuff on LinkedIn. And then this year I made a conscious effort. From the LinkedIn articles a bit more. I spend it's it's despite the fact I've got a, something of a speciality in Facebook, I spend more time on LinkedIn than anything else.

Um, in a [00:18:00] professional capacity that that's what works much better for me. Um, and I, I made a conscious effort to promote articles on there more this year. And I started the year with one that was very popular and attracted a lot of interest, uh, talking about what are the most effective patient recruitment and retention.

Strategies that you can use this year for actually getting patients onto trials. And it has a range of things included, you know, digital advertising, Facebook advertising, but also it was about, uh, reaching out to healthcare professionals, utilizing, uh, patient advocacy groups, other all sorts of different techniques for how you can put your message out there to get people into the trials, including, you know, grassroots outreach, all the, all the different methods.

I attracted a lot of interests, a lot of comments, um, which has been a very interesting to see what people are saying and lots of different viewpoints. Um, you know, there's, there's been a big buzz phrase over [00:19:00] the last couple of years. I mean, it's been around for a while, but certainly more so the last few years about decentralized trials.

Um, and that is for me, it's, it's one of the things that is, is a key factor. In helping people to get onto trials is giving them the choice of how they do it. How, how will they actually participate is we're trying to make them. I'm certainly trying to make, uh, the, the activity of patient recruitment, more consumer led, uh, rather than treatment led.

My, my latest LinkedIn post actually is about that. I put that on earlier today, which is about, um, Patient recruitment and retention. Should we be viewed as a marketing activity? Not a clinical one. So I believe that if you, where I've seen it, it's when, when clinicians are devising methods for recruiting patients on the trial, it's based on what we want to get them to fulfill these criteria, because all these end points we need to hit, we got all this data we need together.

So that's what we need to do. [00:20:00] Forgetting the fact that it's actually people who are taking part in the trial, um, To reach out to the people that has to be something, they have to answer the question what's in it for me at the same time, they have to realize they have to know that, that there was not such a big.

Uh, to take part, which unfortunately, when you're measuring data, you don't necessarily see what this burden could be. I've worked on trials where, you know, there's been three or four, uh, study visits to a research site before you even get onto the trial. And it's just incredible to think that people putting themselves through these, um, it, you are putting people off from their.

So the decentralization idea, I think if you can get people to not have to attend a site, you automatically can keep more people on the, on the trial. And also you can reach a wider audience when we're targeting, whether it's Facebook or anything. [00:21:00] Um, you're, you're targeting people who can travel to a research.

Now that's sort of limits it to 30 miles, 40 miles, 50 miles, maybe around where the site is, whether it's a hospital or a university. But if you can have some sort of decentralization where, for example, uh, the local doctor or local doctor surgery is able to administer the trial on behalf of the principal investigator, they could be a thousand miles away.

So you can automatically increase the reach for who can, who can participate. Also. It makes it easier for the person not to have. Uh, there's lots of ideas with home visits, wearable technology. People often focus on the technology when they talk about decentralized, but I think it's it's as much about patient choice as it is about technology.

So all these things are what I've been writing about how to make it, what we call patient centric, which is probably a bit of a cliche, but people have been talking about [00:22:00] that for so long, um, and not really putting it into practice, whereas. The technology and the will now exists to try and do this. So the articles I've written this year that are on LinkedIn, primarily about those sorts of things.

I also did a prediction for what might be the most effective strategies 10 years from now, um, written as though it was 2032 already. And looking back at, you know, The ways that people could recruit patients on trials using things like the metaverse or whatever the technology is going to come into play by then.

And also hoping in my prediction that more doctors, more healthcare professionals will be inclined to put patients forward for trials. And one of the methods for doing this is by the sharing of the health record. Uh, I see no reason why you shouldn't be allowed to, if you are a [00:23:00] patient, have people sharing a record, obviously it's got to be choice and there's got to be privacy factors involved.

But if people want to, and they're interested in clinical trials education, hopefully people will learn that. That's a good idea then. Yeah. This could be a, this could be where we're heading in 10 years and I'm very much hoping.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Definitely could be a challenge, getting people to, to share, um, you know, data as well, just in terms of, you know, the, the, um, just what people think about, about sharing data.

It's funny because there are certain elements of my data where I've told people, you know, look, as of today, I don't really care about this element of my data. One example could be how I use my telephone, my smart. Today, I don't really care, but who knows what 10 years in the future could be. And then if companies are using that to target certain things and, you know, drive dry certain things my way, um, [00:24:00] because of that, you know, it could become kind of a challenge on the, on the opposite end.

Um, but there's so much good. I feel like that could come from especially decentralized trials. And then in addition to that, having the ability to have. If you don't, if you don't need a patient to travel to a site first, for some reason, Then wouldn't it be great to have them do stuff, you know, at home.

And I, I don't know that it's necessarily through technology or, or whatever, but I mean, to me, it's, it's almost like, um, the more that we can do this and open it up the better, because then it sort of overcome some of the challenges as well with regards to diversifying trials, uh, too. And it just seems like there's a real opportunity.

Ross Jackson: No, I, I definitely agree. Um, it opens up to different communities and is up to different people. Uh, there are all sorts of different solutions. I think technology is one that people have been focusing on a lot, but you know, a more old school approaches having nurse [00:25:00] visits into a home, you can do that and it's resource intensive, but you can arrange these things.

Um, there's also a step. Prior to that where the design of the trial, uh, could be made easier and less burdensome. Is it actually necessary to have all these data points? Do you actually really need all this data? I know it's been talked about quite a lot recently that, um, some trial protocols are simply copied and pasted from previous ones in a similar therapy area.

Um, when you think, well, actually, do they need to be. On the other side of it. Do you need all this data on the other side of it? Uh, a lot of trials seem to be the way I see it seems to be set up to pass the test so that they actually are going to make sure, oh, well, this is great. So they want, you know, people with diabetes with a very low BNI, all this kind of thing.

And it's, um, it's almost limiting the number of people. This treatment will be useful for it. [00:26:00] So it's, I think ideally what we'd have is treatments that are universally useful for as many people as possible with a particular condition. Um, and I know you need to gather lots of data for that, but do you need to gather so much data that the patient, the burden on the patient attending the trial is to risks.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: I mean, it's just a great point. I mean, I think it's, uh, I, I think at the end of the day, you know, it would also be helpful to understand from even the regulatory bodies, what specifically, um, you know, are you looking for in the next round, if you want the, let's say today's epilepsy drug to be the same as.

The N you know, the one for the next decade. Um, then it's a bit of a challenge for the, for, for the regulators, as well as for the anybody that's going through the clinical trial, because most likely you're going to have to gather the same amounts of data as any [00:27:00] previous drug. However, if certain parameters have kind of already been decided or could be decided in a way that requires less data, um, I completely see your point.

I mean, it is an opportunity to sort of expand things. Yeah, maybe take away less of the copy and paste, but at the same time, you sort of be smart about how are we going to run this next clinical trial as well?

Ross Jackson: Yeah, I agree. W what does, uh, you know, using a virtual trial where you're not, which is not the same as de-central trials, virtual trial, based on just, uh, analyzing the data that already exists without having to get an actual patient on it can actually help with those kinds of things.

Cause you can already set some parameters based on what the information you want.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, for sure. So right now you work for a company called prime prime global. It took me a little bit to get that out. So what is prime global?

Ross Jackson: Yeah, prime global is a [00:28:00] medical communications and market access agency that has also built up, um, a patient center of excellence and also recently added with a health economics and real world evidence agency as well.

So it's, it's offering a lot of things to the life sciences, you know, pharma industry effectively, um, started as medical communications. And it has expanded into doing lots of different things that are. Uh, to try and effectively achieve the best outcomes for patients. Um, I was brought on board last year, uh, into the patient team.

Um, so the patient engagement was where they started off with the patient team. Then I was brought on board for patient recruitment. Expand that. So, so what I'm doing is spending a lot of time talking to people about. The best solutions, um, that they can have, they can offer for their trials to actually make them work better.

So we can do some stuff in the house. We got a digital team that's [00:29:00] very good at that. And certainly Facebook ads is one of the things that we're very good at. Um, also are there other digital and social media, but also I'm in touch with lots of different people. I'm always listening out for new solutions that can be used.

Whether it's de-centralized or otherwise. Um, one of my LinkedIn articles from, I think it was last week is about the range of different solutions that are available. If in case people are not aware of what they are. And this is about talking to people who manage the trials and saying, okay, What you're doing at the moment for patient recruitment and retention is not working that well.

Let's have a look at this, try this bit, try that, that bit isn't working at all. So I will shut that bit down and then replace it with these things. Uh, and it's, it's basically, um, consultancy role and advisory role to try and get the best outcomes for people who may not know that there are things around.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: [00:30:00] So one of the, one of the things that also came to mind for me is, you know, what are, what are some of the bigger challenges that people are running into today with regards to clinical trial?

Ross Jackson: Yeah. I mean, patient agreement is a perennial one. Um, it always surprises me that since, since I started in the industry several years ago, it's always surprised me that that is still such a problem because it's such a well-funded industry and they haven't cracked this, uh, uh, well, my post today was about, I think the reason is because it's.

Technical viewpoint rather than a marketing one specific problems though. COVID has certainly caused the problem. Um, here in the, here in the UK where you've dropped all or restrictions. Now there are no, uh, colored restrictions in place, particularly, so you don't have to wear masks and that sort of thing there's advisory, but it's not actually, you have to, I know that's not the case.

Everywhere around the world, but that, that certainly caused an issue for everything I was working on, stopped all the trials stopped in March last night. And it was the last year, [00:31:00] two years ago, two years ago, two years ago. Um, it probably two years to the day. Isn't it? Um, so yeah, so that that's caused an issue and I don't think that's going to come back very quickly, but people did look at other solutions, which is where de-centralization is because.

Much more a priority for people. Despite the fact, you know, decentralized trials have been around for 15 years, they could have been doing them. But anyway, it's, the industry is finally caught up to that. So that's a challenge. I think. I, I, I fear the industry has missed an opportunity. There was a lot of, uh, positive thoughts and positive media about pharmaceutical companies and the industry as a whole during COVID.

I don't think we've managed to capitalize on that as well as we might sadly. Um, cause that would have been a great opportunity. Um, one of the things there, I think is. The the way [00:32:00] that people view the pharmaceutical industry. Well, sorry. The way that people do clinical trials has come more into focus.

It's quite likely that two years ago, the majority of people will, did not know that clinical trials even existed. Whereas now everybody in the world knows that there is such a thing as a clinical trial. They may not know that there's a clinical trial for their own. That's one of the issues that we always have, so that everyone's aware that there was a clinical trial for COVID, et cetera, on the have been, but they may not know that well, I've got asthma nerves, so maybe there's not a clinical trial for me.

They may not make that step. Um, I'm pretty sure 10 years ago, before I started to get involved with trials, I was probably aware that they existed, but was I, did I pay much attention to it? Would it have occurred to me that there was a whole industry around it? Maybe not. I think. The industry has had that opportunity, but I fear it may have blown it, fortunately we could have, could have done a lot better job, um, [00:33:00] to encourage people.

Uh, but on the other side of that, some of the challenges there. Yeah. I think we can overcome those challenges. Better education, better. Uh, operations for trials is one that needs to happen. People are more concerned now about going into research sites, would you want to go into a hospital and to have a clinical trial administered when you know that there's a COVID ward at the end of the corridor?

W w you might think twice about doing that. So, yeah, I think that there are challenges there, um, that do need to be.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And I guess in terms of a longer-term challenges, do you think the challenges will stay the same? Or do you think they'll they'll shift over time?

Ross Jackson: I think they'll, they'll probably stay the same and there'll be new ones that will come up.

Um, I think there's one of the big challenges that you see on the ground with clinical trials are that I'm talking about the [00:34:00] site level side is the, the, the technology that's there, the. The number of different pieces of software and systems that the sites actually used in order to administer a trial is, is increasing.

Uh, and it should really decreasing. There should really be some kind of centralization of this data. Having more data is a very good thing. Um, but it shouldn't be that you have to log into. Programs to actually record the data so that that's, that's the challenge for administering trials. And I think that that's probably gonna get worse before it gets better because all these new solutions are coming into the market.

And for whatever reason nobody has yet standardized the. Platform in the way that say Microsoft did with windows or apple has its own stuff, or, you know, Google with Android. I know that that was, there was all sorts of different systems and platforms in the mobile phone industry and cell phone industry over the years.

And that they've kind of [00:35:00] coalesced into just two now, but perhaps just more than two, I still use a Blackberry, but it's on Android. So, so it's, you know, the money that went into that and the tech solutions that came in. We're able to actually change things, to make it easier for everybody that needs to come into pharma, which is pretty much behind the rest of the well-funded industries.

As far as I can see other longterm problems for clinical trials. Again, I think the reputation is going to go back down here a bit and people don't trust. Um, but there's a lot of good people in the industry. And I think the there's no reason why. Uh, we shouldn't be able to have clinical trials as a care option become quite normal over the next, let's say 10 years.

Uh, I wish that I hope that does happen. Um, it isn't there it's nowhere near there at the moment, but [00:36:00] I would like to see it. The problem is getting doctors to. No, that there is a clinical trial and then put their patients forward is not going to go away the time restricted. Uh, they're going to have less time in the future.

Uh, so it's, it's a balance of what, what, what they can spend their time on. Is it clinical trial top of their mind? Probably not. Can we make it so maybe,

Don Davis PhD, MBA: yeah, I know I've, I've supported the, uh, the idea is while of having. Um, artificial intelligence that helps to guide physicians. I know there's a bit of, there's a bit of resistance because there's, there's a belief that, you know, artificial intelligence is just going to take over.

But at the end of the day, you know, having an empathetic, um, physician or somebody that really understands your care pathway, um, is something. That I believe can't easily be replaced by automation. So [00:37:00] this is where I kind of keep coming back to, you know, look, I, I mean, if, if there are 50 to 60 new drugs that get released every year, um, there's an opportunity.

Somebody could, could find a new drug that actually treats something for somebody a lot better if there's there's a computer on the other end, thinking about that. And I would think the same thing with regards to clinical trials, there's probably an opportunity that, Hey, look, if we've run out of options in the current, uh, environment, maybe there's another, another way to take this and you go join the clinical trial that, that actually, you know, might benefit you in the end.

If you're a.

Ross Jackson: I definitely agree. And I think that that would be great if that happened. And one of the bright things, there is one of the things that is possibly going to happen, it's going to evolve anyway, is the fact that younger generations actually are much more familiar with using their smartphones and doing things online and doing things via apps.

[00:38:00] Um, you know, probably has anyone under the age of 25 ever been into a bank, for example, you know, that sort of thing. It's, um, Th this is going to be a very different future and people will be more used to having smart tech that tells them, uh, you know, artificial intelligence, diagnosing them even then people will be more familiar that people from 40 and up, not so much, but, and I think there's always going to be, um, room before the personal touch, you know?

The bedside manner was the doctor that the doctor actually having that warmth. And that relationship is going to last a long time, but younger people and people who are born today in 20 years time, uh, will they be that bothered about having a local dog? I mean, I, I, I think I've seen some statistics that say that a lot of people under 20 don't even have a doctor that they're.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: I know I've gone down that pathway in [00:39:00] the U S as well, where we, um, we've ha we have enough, um, clinics in an area where you can walk in the door and get a physical, and you can walk in the door with a cold and, you know, get treated that way. Uh, and we certainly have gone down that pathway whenever, um, you know, family physicians or, you know, kelp care providers that we need, you know, just aren't as easily accessible.

So, you know, I've, I've just lived in parts of the world and one of them is Maryland, um, in the U S on the east coast. Um, you know, family physicians were hard to come by and it was a lot easier to drive down the street to a clinic and just say, you know, Hey, look, I have this problem or I need a physical or whatever, and we didn't have, we didn't, we just didn't have a family, family doctor.

It was hard to answer that question though. If you went into the hospital and all of a sudden they ask you, so it was your family doctor. It's like, he don't really have one. So it's, [00:40:00]

Ross Jackson: and then not having access to central health records again is an issue there. So I think if we can do that, there's a big move in the UK to try and get that.

But it's been like that for 20 or 30 years, perhaps, maybe we were on the cusp of it, but.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. So, um, I have three questions that I ask every guest Ross, what inspired.

Ross Jackson: Yeah, I spent thinking about this and I think it's the, most of the things that inspire me to do with how people are, what people do. And it will be as things going on in Ukraine at the moment.

And some of the, some of the reactions that people have had have been quite inspirational. Um, I'm just not just that in my own industry, the industry we're in, you know, the, the inspirational people. Get out of bed everyday to try and make other people's lives better, uh, without much reward for themselves, you just think, wow, this is incredible.

These people are inspiring. Try and do this to help other people, or whether it's from their own background [00:41:00] experiences led them to it. It doesn't matter what they're actually doing. Inspirational. I also thought, um, you know, Paul McCartney is going to be headlining the Glastonbury festival this year, and he's 80 years old when he's going to be doing it.

Now that's pretty inspirational as well to be doing that at the age of 80. So yeah, that Pete, the things that people do.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: I think, I mean, at least for me throughout most of Paul McCartney's life for most of my adult life, it doesn't seem like he's aged all that much. So doing something. Right. So, uh, that side of thing, what concerns you?

Ross Jackson: Yeah. Uh, well Ukraine is obviously a concern and then how that may develop, but it is not just there obviously. I mean, there's lots of flashpoints around the world and lots of terrible things happening around the world. It's a concern in general, it's a concern. It's almost a cliche that isn't as a concern that everybody would have.

Um, I am [00:42:00] concerned about where our industry is going. The fact that we have perhaps not taken advantage of the, the Goodwill that was generated, uh, maybe a year ago, 18 months ago, perhaps with the vaccine development. So I'm concerned about that. Yeah, I, I suppose I'm concerned about the economic effects of things.

Now it must be happening in the U S in the UK. We've got a big cost of living crisis. Now is everything's rising oil prices, gas prices. People's energy in the home is, was it 200% price rises, all sorts of things going on, and now it's going to get even worse. So that, that is a major concern, that there is a knock on effect for our industry as well, because when people can't heat their home or eat.

Does it a generational effect of bad health?

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. Yeah. I certainly, um, as well care about the, uh, the, you know, how things might, might turn out, you know, for the [00:43:00] world. I really sympathize though with those poor people in Ukraine and everything that's going on there, and I'm glad at least from a NATO risk response standpoint, that they have responded the way that they have.

And. You know, if it causes some immediate suffering for me, I, I, I'm sure it's nowhere near, uh, what they're, what they're going through in that free. So, uh, um, yeah, I, I just, I think all of us sit and kind of wonder what could possibly happen, you know, if we were to fast forward six months from now, what, what are things going to look like then?

Um, and what happens with this crisis? So, um, you know, I certainly hope. The things turn out, um, better than they currently are. And there's there's little, little economic impact, you know, going forward. But, uh, I, I don't have a crystal ball either.

Ross Jackson: Um, and the worst, the worst possible outcome isn't there that we're all hoping.

No, nowhere near. [00:44:00]

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And Ross, what excited.

Ross Jackson: Yeah, again, we're excited to be, I was thinking about this as well. What does excite me? So, yeah, I think there's the things in, in general that excite me that are, that are also connected to the stuff that's going on in, in, in the industry as well. I think things, things like the metaverse do excite me to an extent from the digital background, perhaps this is where that, that comes in.

Not the, I'm not talking about Facebook's idea of the metaverse I'm talking about the in general and I think. Yeah. At the same time, it's horrifying and exciting because there's, you know, that you can use anything for good or bad. Uh, but I think there are lots of great opportunities with that sort of technology.

So the way, the way technology has just increased and increasing, and the pace of change is accelerating as more things happen and all those things happen. It's those things that are exciting, those things that are possibly on the horizon. I think in health [00:45:00] care, there's a lot of great stuff being done.

Um, you know, individualized treatments, even all the stuff that people have been talking about for a long time is almost there. Now. I think, um, the, the stuff that's going on with the. Nuclear fusion you think? Well, that could be very interesting if they can actually get that working again. It's always been, I think it's, I think they always say it's about 10 years away or something like that.

And it's still about 10 years away. Um, but yeah, all those technological advances are exciting. What else excites me sometimes I'm excited just to get out of bed in the morning. Yeah. Great. This is it's a nice day. Sunny day. It's it's exciting to, um, be in the world. I think it's, uh, it's, it's a nice, it's a good thing.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, it's definitely a great time. I mean, especially in life sciences, I mean, I'm excited by all the, by all the technology to, uh, that we have, I mean, from artificial intelligence, Um, [00:46:00] what's funny is that Mo so if you rewind the clock, uh, more than 10 years ago, uh, in my career, um, I remember people saying this word that I, I couldn't say, and I kept asking them and then they would break it down and then they would say, well, just call it a MAB, you know, monoclonal antibody.

And, um, and so I constantly would try and, you know, like talk about this, this technology. You know, for, for healthcare and. And low and behold, you know, here we are in the midst of COVID and all of a sudden they start saying, well, Hey look, we could actually pump your body, fill filled with antibodies without having to go through, you know, the process of being vaccinated.

You could, you could get them get a dose of, of antibodies a different way, and here's the technology. And, and it just was amazing to me to kind of see. Move from that part of here's the concept here, something that I know I saw and heard about it in a lab, I heard plenty of [00:47:00] discussions about papers and other things.

And then here. And, um, you know, so, you know, in part B you know, in part, because of great work that you, and, you know, the, the different teams that you work with that are doing, you know, clinical trials, um, you know, brought that to life, right. I mean, otherwise it wouldn't be, it wouldn't have been able to be put in into a patient.

So, uh, I

Ross Jackson: think that day, it's very exciting. How about, I can't give any credit for that, but yes, it is very exciting. I think one of the things that you also, that, that also highlights is the collaboration. Within the industry that, that really probably wasn't there to the same extent before COVID, which now it's opened the door to that, which is good.

So there's a lot more siloing previously. I think now people are open to the idea of collaboration because the outcomes are better for everybody. So I think that that's another exciting change and an exciting.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Absolutely. So Ross, before we go, the one [00:48:00] thing I like to also ask everybody is how can they get in touch with you?

If somebody really wanted to get in touch with you after the show, what's the best way for them to get in touch with.

Ross Jackson: Yeah. Um, I'm on LinkedIn and I keep my LinkedIn URL is Ross Jackson marketing. Uh, because I believe that the model I specialize in is, um, a marketing discipline. So I'm on LinkedIn there.

I, um, I've got my own website, Ross, or. or Ross at Ross Jackson dot. Got it. Okay. So there's all sorts of ways unique to Jimmy. LinkedIn's possibly the easiest cause it's, um, you can find me there then direct message or it's got my emails on and things like that.

Don Davis PhD, MBA: Perfect. Well, Ross Jackson, thank you so much for being a guest on the life science success podcast. I really appreciate you being here.

Ross Jackson: Thank you very much. I've enjoyed it. Thanks so much. .