4 Proven Ways A Site Can Impress Sponsors
When delegating a task, the logical step for most is to direct the project to the most qualified person, right?
This is exactly what happens within clinical trials. Sponsors/CROs “delegate” their trial to the most qualified sites. Therefore, in order to survive the Darwinism of the site selection process, sites must impress their sponsors/CROs and prove they have the ability to run these trials effectively and efficiently! While representing sites from all over the world with various infrastructure capacities and research experience, we have noticed the following qualities in our most sought after sites.
- Strong infrastructure. Having a strong infrastructure isn’t limited to the number of employees at a specific site. It also includes strong communication pathways, a site’s access to resources and last, but certainly not least, community involvement.
- Having strong external communication pathways to your sponsor/CRO, including being thorough and accurate on feasibilities, is equally as important as having the strong internal communication within your site. Sponsors/CROs want to know that you’re capable of handling their trial and that if something goes wrong, your clinical research team can work together to address and resolve the problem quickly and efficiently.
- Having the access to the appropriate resources is HUGE to a sponsor or CRO. Resources includes all of the personnel to conduct the trial efficaciously. This could include having the appropriate specialists for the specific indication, having adequate staff running the trial (coordinators, regulatory specialists, raters if necessary), study-specific machinery (X-ray, EKG, MRI, etc) and access to a lab and/or pharmacy. While it may be a bit pricey to acquire specific machinery, or hire additional personnel for a specific study, it can pay off in the long run and please the sponsors or CROs that are seeking sites with specific resources.
- Community involvement doesn’t sound like it would be something a Sponsor or CRO would consider when looking at a site, but reputation is everything in this field! If a research site is involved in their community and attends local advocacy walks and events, they’ll brand themselves as a site that genuinely cares and potential patients will naturally gravitate towards them.
- Easy access to necessary data. With all continuously moving pieces that are involved in a clinical trial, knowing that a site can be organized under the pressures and sudden changing timelines that arise, can be vital to a sponsor or CRO.
- Having your research sites in-house timelines available to the sponsor/CRO is an easy way you can sell your site. How long does it take your site to produce a CDA? Complete an FQ? Go through and finalize a budget to receive that CTA signature? IRB submissions? Average time frame from when you sign a CDA to FPI? Having this information on hand can give your site the competitive edge it needs to be a stronger contender compared to other sites that may have the same strengths but lack information or quick document turnaround.
- Organized metrics means just that – having your research sites metrics up to date: previous trials your site has completed (what indications? How many patients were anticipated to enroll vs. enrolled? What was the duration of the trial?), previous trials with specific sponsor/CRO, previous enrollment numbers for specific indications, patient database specifics (demographics, indication, etc).
- Strong recruitment strategies. Strong patient databases includes not just a high volume of patients, but also patients spanning across numerous therapeutic areas. This shows sponsors that when they send you a preliminary feasibility questionnaire or just basic study information, your team can start pre-identifying patients just based on your database alone which is always a plus when starting to prepare for the trial.
- Community and physician referrals can also look really good to Sponsors and CROs. As stated earlier, reputation is everything in this field. Knowing that your community and fellow physicians trust you means that the Sponsor or CRO can trust you.
- Of course, enrollment may not be completely fulfilled through your patient database and referring physicians – you may need to do a little marketing and advertising. Sponsors and CROs understand this, and most of the time, expect this. With that being said, they want to make sure that you’re not allocating an enormous amount of funds to marketing and advertising. Having a solid plan of action for where and how much money is being allocated to marketing and advertising as well as the expected return on your plans can please and ease the minds of Sponsors and CROs greatly.
- Be yourselves! As cliché as that sounds, the unique characteristics your site can bring to the table is what is going to make you stand out against your competition! Showcase your strengths as a site and why a sponsor or CRO would want to work with you for extended periods of time. Does the blend of personalities in your office allow for a highly efficient workflow? Are you quick to identify, address and resolve problems? Are you punctual? Communicative? Amicable? Even the area in which a CRA would be working during their site visits could be important. Are they sitting in a small corner sharing a desk with another employee? Or do they have their own desk with room to work? All of these little factors have the ability to give you a bit of a boost when impressing the sponsor or CRO.