There’s something endearing about businesses with regular customers. Personal touches, like the business knowing, by heart, things like a customer’s first name and regular order, soften the colder, more transactional nature of their relationship. Ask someone for an example of a type of business that has relationships like these, and she’ll likely cite some neighborhood-oriented establishment, like a restaurant or barber shop. But they can be found in the clinical research industry as well – and with great results. When a contract research organization (CRO) settles on a preferred electronic data capture (EDC) provider, and designates that provider as their go-to for most or all of their projects, the advantages can reverberate beyond the two participating businesses and affect numerous other players involved in that CRO’s clinical research.
Of course, sponsors typically have final say in what EDC their CROs use. But if a sponsor grants discretion to a CRO in selecting an eClinical vendor, it behooves that CRO – from financial, marketing, and administrative standpoints alike – to take advantage of that discretion. Here’s why:
Advantages for CROs
The most immediate benefits of CRO-EDC unity apply at the CRO level. It’s not uncommon for an EDC vendor to reward a CRO’s commitment with perks that streamline their operations and conserve their pocketbooks. Aside from discounted pricing, likely the most obvious of these perks, CROs may receive free or discounted training, promotion on the vendor’s website, and other resources. The value of such treatment is not to be underestimated – in fact, to refer to them merely as perks may be a misnomer. Clinical research is a notoriously long and expensive process, and any avenue through which CROs can mitigate the costs can bring welcome relief.
The time and cost savings CROs can access by settling on a preferred EDC provider tie into another advantage of these partnerships: the ability to better compete for sponsor business. CROs are able to include, as part of their bids, a data management tool in which they already have extensive experience and expertise, and which has provided them exclusive access to resources that keep projects running more smoothly than they would with other EDCs. As a result, they can authentically position themselves as an organization optimized to seamlessly integrate the often complicated and drawn-out logistics of EDC implementation into their clinical operations, without being impeded by extensive training, calls to customer support, and other needs that can slow a study.
Advantages for sponsors
This, of course, goes hand-in-hand with the advantages for study sponsors – first and foremost, peace of mind. These partnerships don’t simply indicate expertise in a particular EDC, but trust – the CRO is vouching for the superiority of their chosen vendor, and if the sponsor truly values the professional insight of the CRO they’ve contracted, that can be quite reassuring. With optimal pricing and fewer variables in training and support needs, sponsors can be confident that, with their chosen EDC, a CRO will be able to promptly deliver quality research.
The value of this trust is difficult to overstate: doubts about training and customer support needs and other concerns related to EDC implementation are a common source of anxiety for sponsors.1 And, of course, any reassurance is helpful when a sponsor’s research and all that comes with it – namely, the staggering cost of the drug development that precedes clinical trials – are in the hands of an external organization.
With more and more sponsors outsourcing to CROs rather than conducting their clinical research in house, there are more and more opportunities for CROs to take advantage of. But as demand for research services grows, there’s also a greater need for CROs to set themselves apart from the competition. Aligning more closely with a chosen, go-to EDC provider can enable organizations to achieve this. Entering the bidding process already equipped with the technological savvy required to get studies built and executed efficiently signals, to sponsors, relief from the headaches and delays often associated with EDC implementation.
1 Neuer, Ann; Slezinger, Edward; Warnock, Neil; The Upfront Cost Hurdle of EDC; Applied Clinical Trials; 1 April 2010