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Amy Zucker is president of Indianapolis-based Synergy Marketing Group. Her firm was recently hired by Indianapolis-based ImmuneWorks Inc. to use a new website and search-engine optimization to help recruit patients for a Phase 1 trial of ImmuneWorks experimental medicine for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF. The Web strategy is a new wrinkle on patient recruitment—in addition to the traditional partnerships with disease specialists at academic medical centers—which Zucker hopes leads to lower costs and faster clinical trials. Phase 1 clinical trials cost nearly $16,000 per patient.

IBJ: Your company has worked for life sciences firms doing commercialization work but never clinical-trial recruitment. How did you get together with ImmuneWorks on this project?

A:  I’ve known [ImmuneWorks CEO] Wade Lange for many years. He recognized that if he’s going to market with the clinical trial, he needs to instill confidence in the patients in the clinical trial and with the referring physicians and with the [patients’] friends and family, to be comfortable with the company. So we updated his website, freshening the overall look and bringing the technology behind it up to date. Also, we were able to apply all of our SEO best practices throughout the site.

IBJ: SEO, or search-engine optimization, helps ImmuneWorks’ clinical-trial information to appear on the first page of Google’s search results when someone searches for IPF treatments. Why does it make sense to try to find patients using this technology, in addition to finding physicians that are already treating IPF patients?

A: IPF is fatal and there is no known treatment. The people that are diagnosed with this, they’re in desperate need of some treatment options. So they’re searching for treatment options right now. That’s why I feel that SEO makes sense for our clients.

IBJ: The new site went live 10 days ago. What’s been the response?

A: They’ve already been flooded. IPF is a pretty small population, less than 200,000 are diagnosed each year in the United States. Most of them are 60 and over. We didn’t know whether those patients would be using the Internet to research their disease. But we’re getting submissions every single day. We’ve been really pleased with the response on ImmuneWorks. The faster they can find those clinical participants the faster they can complete these clinical trails and move on to the next stage.


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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.