Creating and sustaining a value-based culture
As important as the “business” of clinical research is to success, attention to the culture of a research site and the importance of the values that make a site more than a physical structure is a much greater proposition. Why do we have values? The aim of values is multifaceted and the creation of values does not happen overnight. The metamorphosis of values over time can provide meaning, guidance and color to your operation. Organizational change takes time (on average three years) and resources, but the value system you create can impact every facet of the business from resource allocation to hiring processes to the delivery of quality.
Synexus began the process of creating a value-driven culture in 2013 through internal focus group discussions. A full 12 months was required to fully launch the concepts and meanings globally to all staff. Today those values are embedded in day-to-day operations. The concepts drive the Synexus approach to partners, patients and internal relationships. According to Jane Restorick, chief, Business Operations for Synexus, “We have found that as long as there is a master plan and that plan is supported by corporate values that are consistent across locations and cultures, it is possible to grow and improve patient focus at the same time.”
Values aim to:
- Serve as a compass for actions and guide behaviors.
- Support the delivery of vision, goals and objectives.
- Reinforce how strategy is executed, and how it drives day-to-day activities and decisions.
- Define attitude and behaviors.
- Create an environment that will attract and retain patients, customers and employees.
In discussions with sites regardless of location, I have found the fundamental elements of value for the clinical research site includes:
- Patient engagement: Building and maintaining patient loyalty through a commitment to safety and care.
- Integrity: Cultivating a culture characterized by mutual respect, honesty and fairness across the organization.
- Expertise: Committing to continually develop knowledge and skills in order to be the leader in the field.
- Customer Service: Delivering high levels of service to build lasting relationships with internal and external customers.
- Empowerment: Encouraging each individual to be accountable for delivering outstanding performance.
While many models can be applied, Synexus maintains that this approach may ultimately prove more successful. When applied, for instance, to staff turnover, Synexus found that the percent attrition has diminished since orienting new employees to the value proposition and weaving those philosophies as a common thread through the business model. Attrition of clinical research support personnel at a site is a significant area of importance and slowing that turnover with better engagement is pivotal to site success.
A recent survey conducted by CenterWatch among 269 study coordinators worldwide found that workload, as measured by the number of clinical trials actively managed by each CRC, has increased 7% annually over the past 10 years. The median number of studies managed by a study coordinator on an annual basis jumped from 4.3 in 2001 to seven last year. Based on anecdotal reports from sites, this is expected to be even higher in 2021. The coordinator personally oversees an average of 80 patients on an annual basis. Furthermore, according to the CenterWatch survey, only 44% of study coordinators stayed in their positions for more than four years. Ultimately, attention to culture and belief in a value system will help retain staff and make them thrive in an increasingly challenging environment.
As another aspect of this concept, focus on patient engagement has proven to be insightful, with the emphasis on better understanding the set of values presented by patients. Synexus has been able to recruit more competitively for patients by emphasizing the values of the patient, such as a desire to better understand their own health, to serve humanity and to participate in the greater understanding of disease.
With a reported 76% of the workforce dissatisfied with their jobs (Ritz Carlton seminar, 2015), a value system that increases satisfaction is critically important not only in the business of clinical research, but to any business.
Dr. Christophe Berthoux has been the chief executive officer at Synexus since September 2010. Synexus is a site management organization. Email comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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