Learn Tools & Practices to Promote Your Site to Sponsors & CROs
In today’s competitive clinical trials landscape, it may seem nearly impossible for many sites to stand out to sponsors and CROs. Of all the research site tasks, the one that most often gets overlooked is business development. According to Ron Hakes, CEO of Cincinnati Education & Research for Veterans Foundation, in order for foundations like his to provide the biggest impact possible:
A culture shift is needed to really focus on running like a business.
Growing your study pipeline and gaining attention of sponsors and CROs is all about marketing your strengths and creating a good business development plan. Alanna Caffas, Executive Director of the Veterans Research Foundation of Pittsburgh recognizes the importance of her organization keeping a steady pipeline and continuously generating revenue. In her role, she strives to reach her established goals and timelines while continuously networking and collaborating with her peers. Alanna often asks herself:
Will they remember us?
Business development is not just making the sale, or getting the study. The key lies in relationship management and staying in touch with the key players, so that, when an opportunity does exist, you are top of mind. Keeping a constant flow of communication with sponsors ensures that your study pipeline will never run dry of opportunities. Show your strengths and highlight processes you have in place to ensure success. Know what makes your site stand out against the others and don’t be afraid to brag a little if you’re excelling in a difficult area.
Metrics are key differentiators as sponsored clinical trials become increasingly competitive
There is a lot of discussion in the clinical research community about metrics. However, tracking metrics in clinical trials does not exclusively inform internal process improvement. It is clear that sponsors and CROs are looking for data to support decisions regarding which sites are the best partners. According to Caffas,
Metrics…how long to enroll first patient, how long to execute contracts and budget…performance in meeting CRO timelines…are an important marketing tool key to marketing any research site.
What does your site perform well and where could it improve? While getting started with tracking metrics may seem daunting, sites that rely on anecdotal experience alone are missing a valuable opportunity to improve their operations while gaining a competitive advantage.
Top 5 metrics Your Site Should Be Measuring:
- Time from Draft Budget Received from Sponsor to Budget Finalized
The time (measured in days) between the date that the first draft budget is received and the date that the sponsor sends approval of the budget.
Sites that have short cycle times for this metric can use the information to demonstrate their responsiveness and professionalism to sponsors and CROs. Long cycle times for this metric can signal your site to investigate further and identify where the there is a delay and find ways to speed this process.
- Time from IRB Submit to IRB Approval
The time (measured in days) between the date that the initial submission packet is sent to the IRB (Institutional Review Board) and the date that the protocol is approved or marked as exempt.
If your site routinely approves new trials in a timely fashion, sponsors and CROs will take notice. IRB approval is one of the first milestones in the life cycle of a clinical trial and the variability between sites at this step is great. Use a good track record for this metric to your advantage when promoting your site’s abilities.
- Time from Contract Fully Executed to Open to Accrual
The time (measured in days) between the date that all signatures—internal and sponsor—are complete and the date that subjects may be enrolled.
Subject accrual is a significant challenge across the industry. If your site’s performance for this metric is good, be sure that you leverage this in negotiating with sponsors and CROs. Getting new protocols open to accrual faster means that your site has more time to enroll subjects. Sites with a history of good performance for this metric will be selected first for future trials. As with other metrics, long cycle times here could indicate that your site should try to identify areas where the process is being delayed. Then, track this metric over time to verify that any changes have had a positive impact.
- Number of Active Protocols
The number of Protocols that are not in Long Term Follow Up with one of the following statuses: Open to Accrual, Closed to Accrual, or Suspended within a given month.
An important measure of your clinical research operations capacity, this metric is key to evaluating other areas of your operations.
- Number of New Subject Accruals
The number of subjects accrued during a given month.
This is an important measure of your site’s ability to deliver on your accrual targets. Sites with a history of successfully meeting accrual targets get selected first for new trials. This metric in combination with other metrics, such as screen failures and expected enrollment rates, can also provide important feedback about the appropriateness of a given trial for your patient population. The ratio of new subject accruals to the total number of active protocols is a key indicator of your site’s enrollment success.
According to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, two-thirds of sites do not meet patient enrollment requirements of a given study. A site’s ability to successfully recruit patients will set it apart in an industry plagued by failed accrual targets.
Share Your Success
Armed with these five metrics, your site will have powerful tools to create content to share with sponsors. Sites that track performance metrics and are able to present accurate data to sponsors are more likely to land the study. Have short study start-up times or consistently high enrollment? Highlight your strengths and focus on all the positives you can provide to the sponsors. Communicate your unique selling proposition in a variety of places including your website, conferences, social media and in person. Networking at industry events and a strong digital presence are great ways to get your message out. However, maintaining contact with sponsors you have worked with before to provide a consistent flow of information about where you are excelling is critical. It is much easier to generate repeat business from those whom you’ve already worked with, rather than trying to develop new business relationships.
Staying organized is important to for both operational and business development success. Does your site utilize spreadsheets for each business processes and/or CRM? Having cutting edge tools to manage clinical trials and business development is essential in this complex, competitive environment. Haspoa’s cutting edge IT solutions streamline managing clinical trials by seamlessly integrating spreadsheets into centralized systems like Salesforce. Additionally, Haspoa is a Premier Tableau Partner and can combine your data across platforms into real-time, interactive dashboards providing business intelligence at your fingertips.
HASPOA simplifies the business of life sciences. We understand that managing clinical trials is difficult. We support CROs, sponsors and research sites like the Cincinnati Education & Research for Veterans Foundation and the Veterans Research Foundation of Pittsburgh with insights, knowledge, dashboards and other tools to flexibly integrate clinical, regulatory and financial data to reach their goals. We help them to leverage data to work faster and smarter and spend more time improving human health. Feel free to reach out to the Haspoa team if you have feedback on what works for your site and/or if you have questions.