5 Tips for Getting Your Clinical Research Site Selected for More Studies
In the world of clinical research, ensuring that your site gets selected for studies can be a difficult and time-consuming process. In the past few years, site selection has gotten more and more competitive, which can make standing out to sponsors/CROs even more challenging. However, there are simple steps your site can take to get selected for more studies. Keep reading to hear our 5 tips for getting your clinical research site selected for more studies.
Meet Your Deadlines
The first tip may seem obvious, but it is one of the most fundamental things a site can do to stand out to sponsors/CROs during the site selection process. Typically, one of the first impressions a sponsor will have of a site is how quickly and accurately that site completes their initial paperwork, such as CDAs or feasibility questionnaires. A site that takes 2 weeks to get their PI to sign a CDA may give off the impression that they don’t really care if they get selected for the study. Sponsors/CROs take note of slow response times, and some sponsors/CROs may even keep metrics of turnaround times for documents, so repeatedly missing deadlines can be extremely detrimental to your selection chances.
If you know you are going to miss a deadline, it is important to make sure you communicate that to the sponsor/CRO as soon as possible. They will appreciate your honesty, and this will also let them know that you are actively working on these items and not ignoring their deadlines.
2. Take the Questionnaire Seriously
The next tip for getting your research site selected for more studies is related to feasibility questionnaires. It can be discouraging to continually fill out questionnaires if you feel like you are receiving no payoff, but it is a crucial step in the site selection process that should be taken seriously. It is very important to submit your questionnaires in a timely fashion, but the information that you provide on the questionnaires is even more critical.
When filling out answers on feasibility questionnaires, you should never leave questions blank, and you should always use the open-ended questions and “comment” sections to your advantage. Take advantage of the open-ended questions that ask you to describe your site setting, research experience, patient population, referral abilities, and anything else that may help you stand out during the site selection process. Sponsors/CROs will take notice of the fact that you have gone the extra mile on your questionnaire.
If you have had successes with the same sponsor/CRO on other trials, remind them of those successes, as sponsors/CROs don’t always refer to previous site lists or study records during the site selection process.
3. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver
When it comes to enrollment estimates, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around. Sites tend to be overly optimistic about their enrollment projections, which can lead them to overestimate the number of patients they can enroll by a large margin. Sites may believe they have hundreds or even thousands of patients in a certain indication, but once they are ready to enroll, they may find it surprisingly difficult to find patients who are qualified for their studies. If a site’s enrollment estimates are much higher than everyone else’s, the sponsor/CRO may automatically assume your numbers are inflated, unless you can back up your estimates with solid metrics from previous studies.
When estimating enrollment numbers, it is also important to look at the inclusion/exclusion criteria before providing your estimate to the sponsor/CRO. As clinical trials continue to become more complex, it is important to look at all of the inclusion/exclusion criteria, not just the key criteria. Even seemingly small criteria can cut your potential patient population down significantly.
It is safer to be conservative with your patient enrollment projections, as overestimating in this area could hurt your chances of securing studies with sponsors/CROs in the future.
4. Anticipate Red Flags
When you are filling out questionnaires or corresponding with the sponsor/CRO, it is crucial that you are paying close attention to all the answers you are giving and anticipating possible red flags that they may have. Before submitting your questionnaires, you should always try and imagine reading your answers from the perspective of the sponsor/CRO and anticipate any follow-up questions they might have when reading your answers. It is better to give too much information on the front-end than have the sponsor/CRO questioning your answers after you submit your questionnaire. Before submitting anything to the sponsor/CRO, you should ask yourself, “If I were the sponsor/CRO, would I choose my site for this study?”
5. Be Proactive and Follow Up
Our final tip for getting your site selected for more studies is to always be proactive and follow up with the sponsor/CRO. If you receive a timeline from the sponsor/CRO but don’t hear back by the dates they give you, don’t be afraid to send them an email or give them a call to ask for an update. You don’t want a study opportunity to fall through the cracks, so periodically following up with the sponsor/CRO can help everyone stay on track.
We also recommend keeping track of the studies you’ve submitted for by setting up a spreadsheet or some other system where you can list the study opportunities you have submitted to, and include important information like contact info, indication, timelines, and more.
There is no trick that will get your site selected for every study, every time. Despite our best efforts, sometimes there are external factors that we cannot control during the site selection process. However, making sure you are meeting your deadlines, setting realistic goals, and being proactive and communicative can help your site stand out in the crowd.
Want to learn more about how to get selected? Listen to our most recent webinar: “5 ‘Must-Knows’ to Ensure Your Site Stands Out During the Site Selection Process”.