Q: I have heard of the preferred site lists and partnerships with sponsors and CROs, but why should I care as a research site?
A: No matter how long you’ve been in the research industry, it’s no question that building relationships are a vital factor to any successful business in any industry. The research industry itself is built on solid partnerships. No medicine would be on the market today without the relationships between IRBs, pharmaceutical companies, Contract Research Organizations, clinical research sites, and the patients that participate.
While we act on behalf of our sites to expand their horizons and connect them with both sponsors and CROs, one of the questions that we most frequently receive is, “As a site, what are the advantages of being considered as a preferred site or partner site with sponsors and CROs?”
Here are the top 3 advantages we have seen:
- The elusive and always desirable, Dedicated Contact
If a site is assigned a designated contact from the sponsor or CRO’s side, (which we see in most partnerships) you could consider that person as a member of your own team - just on the sponsor’s side! The relationship established can persuade that person to keep an eye out for your site and keep you looped in on not just studies that are of core focus for you, but may be able to shed light on the other studies that the CRO is working on, allowing for better growth forecasting into the future. While you may not communicate with this person as often as the people at your site, there is something to be said about the benefits of having an assigned contact that you know is held responsible for your happiness as a partner site.
- Access to those “that would make my year” studies
When becoming a partnership site, we see almost every CRO or sponsor’s reasoning behind having a site become a preferred site, “You will get access to some of the most competitive studies in our industry” or something of the same effect. We have seen that these studies do come through, but as with everything else in the industry, it varies. A CRO will have to win those studies to provide them, a sponsor will have to have the IP to conduct those trials, but for those that win the studies or have the trials, then the partnership or preferred sites see first dibs.
- Data to make your site better (and communication lines to make your site heard!)
In these partnership models, there is more reporting done and collected, as the sites participating are expected to be held to a higher standard than those not in the partnership, as the site holds higher expectations from the sponsor or CRO than if they were not a preferred site. Reviewing that data within the partnership experience lends to seeing where a site can improve and getting feedback from the partner contact of what other partner sites are doing to be better in an area. Having that sounding board is a big plus! This also opens the conversations about what is happening with protocols, contracts, budgets, and more. For example, if the sponsor or CRO considers you as a partnership site, but your site can only work on studies that provide a monthly payment structure, how much more do you think the sponsor or CRO will be willing to get that input into the contract, especially if they know that your site will get the job done and done well?
Partnerships in the research industry, like everywhere else, are made of gives and takes, but ultimately, both parties should feel they are benefiting from the relationships and have a clear understanding of what the expectations are prior to entering.
Sponsors and CROs are constantly seeking streamlined approaches to access high quality research sites suitable for their trials. One of the most efficient ways that a site can push themselves further up the site selection list is by joining a reputable site network.
Learn more by downloading our whitepaper on joining a site network!