CWWeekly presents this biweekly feature as a spotlight on issues that executives in clinical research face. This week, writer Suz Redfearn spoke with Jim Murphy, CEO of Greenphire, which offers global clinical trial payment solutions.
Q: You have spoken about site-centricity in the past. What is it and why is it important?
A: Patient-centricity is a hot topic in the industry today. The best way to be patient-centric as a CRO or sponsor is to focus on the site. Everyone’s heard of patient-centricity, but the reality is that it’s hard to be fully patient-centric if you’re not site-centric. Unless you’re making it easy for the sites to care for patients, you’re not making it possible to provide the best care.
Think about it: Would you be able to run a successful business if you paid your employees every 100 days or so? As crazy as it sounds, this happens every day to investigative sites. It’s common practice for investigative sites to wait up to four months to collect payment for clinical trials. It’s unrealistic to expect a site to run a successful trial if their payment processes aren’t efficient. That’s why there needs to be more focus on site centricity, because it is what really drives clinical trial success.
It’s a simple concept; if sites are kept happy, then patients, CROs and sponsors are happy, and there’s better data and better performance. With all parties on board, it’s the best chance for clinical trial success.
Q: What barriers may have prevented sponsors and CROs from being fully site-centric in the past?
A: The industry has been slow to adopt a sense of site-centricity for many reasons. One reason is the conservative nature of the pharmaceutical industry. Where every aspect of our lives has evolved to a more personal daily interface with computers and an information-rich environment, drug development has not followed that at the same pace. Over the years, the constraints in the clinical trial space from a compliance perspective have intensified. Now there are a labyrinth of different requirements and demands from regulatory bodies, each of which has raised costs and made it more burdensome for sponsors, CROs and sites to participate in a trial. On top of all this, there’s the financial pressure to develop therapies faster, while simultaneously lowering costs and controlling compliance in all far-flung international endeavors, and at the same time, provide greater transparency.
It’s exceedingly hard to be site-centric in this environment, but power is increasing at some of the sites. Sponsors and CROs have come to realize there are a subset of sites around the world that are very professional, compliant and effective, and those sites are very sought after. I would say the most productive sites now have more influence than ever before.
Q: Your company offers CROs and sponsors a way to pay sites faster than they have traditionally. Do sponsors want to pay sites faster?
A: Sponsors and CROs want to improve their relationships with their sites, as well as improve their own workflow for managing sites. There’s been a strong, positive momentum in adopting patient payment solutions as well as site payment solutions, which accelerate pay but also streamline a lot of previously manual activities in the back office.
Most CROs and even sponsors have historically been paying sites on a quarterly basis. That is a legacy of a lot of different factors—paper-based CRF as well as very manual activities related to writing checks and issuing payment. It’s a slow-aggregation activity, but we’ve increasingly done EDC, and now are at a point where you can automate payments at no additional cost. However, if you’re creating the quarterly process by hand, on paper, it would magnify your efforts to increase to monthly, as it sets off a whole cascade of activities. If you do it electronically, you eliminate manually tracking all activities. Sponsors typically start off paying quarterly, then evolve to monthly once they realize it doesn’t require any more effort.
Recent studies reveal that the top site challenges include inefficient, inaccurate manual reporting processes and poor payment processes that are slow—think quarterly basis—and require upfront payments by sites. So, what’s the solution? Technology is the answer to enable sites to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time focusing on the performance of the study.
This article was reprinted from Volume 20, Issue 23, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »