After spending much of the last 18 months adding new services, Publicis Health has bolstered another competency — clinical trial experience and patient recruitment — with the acquisition of BBK Worldwide.

The deal gives Publicis Health access to BBK Worldwide’s TrialCentralNet, a patient recruitment management system designed to streamline study enrollment on a patient-by-patient basis.

“I don’t always believe bigger is better, but in this instance it was. It allows us to have the impact that we were looking to have on clinical trials,” said Joan Bachenheimer, founding principal and CEO of BBK Worldwide. “We felt that if we could join with a company committed to the patient experience, that footprint in the marketplace could be more impressive. Publicis Health provides us with that.”

Bachenheimer pointed to rare disease trials as a potential boon for the use of TrialCentralNet. The platform database connects rare disease patients, sometimes located outside the U.S., to doctors involved in clinical trials, then guides the patient through the enrollment process. It’s a white-glove approach: A pre-screening concierge is exclusively charged with expediting the connection between patient and trial site.

“The goal is to supply patients with trial information that’s even more comprehensive than what they’ve seen on the website,” Bachenheimer noted. “They can then download an app that allows them to understand how the screening visit will be set up, how they can avail themselves of travel assistance if they don’t have a visa and how to navigate COVID-19 restrictions..”

Beyond generally bolstering Publicis Health’s clinical trial capabilities, the BBK Worldwide acquisition will help the newly merged organization improve its postmarketing processes.

“Every trial that has postmarketing objectives is also looking at ongoing studies — and until now, it’s been too cumbersome for all of those studies to be implemented,” Bachenheimer explained. “You’re looking at the marriage between commercial and R&D, and that’s in its nascence.”

There’s also a philosophical match between the two organizations. “Ideally, we also boost Publicis Health’s philosophical approach — which is that engagement and communication is care,” Bachenheimer continued.

As part of the deal, Publicis Health will also acquire BBK Holdings, the parent company of 320Agency, TCN Technologies and RSG Engagement Solution Center. BBK Worldwide, headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts, has 50 full-time employees. Globally, Publicis Health has more than 2,500 staff.