Customer Experience and Design

Why You Need To Think Of Clinical Sites As Your Customers

Earlier this year, Duke University and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a jointly conducted study focused on principal investigator (PI) retention. After surveying 201 PIs, they confirmed the industry’s suspicion that PI turnover is a serious issue: 54.2% of respondents reported that they completed a single clinical trial and then stopped. In fact, the title of the article, published in the journal of Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, is “One and done: Reasons principal investigators conduct only one FDA-regulated drug trial.”

The study revealed four primary reasons that PIs chose not to conduct more than one trial:

  • 8% cited workload balance, meaning the struggle to balance trial implementation with other work obligations and opportunities
  • 4% cited the time requirements to initiate and implement the trial, especially PI and site staff time
  • 5% cited the responsibility of and time requirements for data and safety reporting
  • 0% cited general dissatisfaction with finance-related issues

These results tell us two important things: 1) investigator retention is a very real, serious, and expensive problem that requires immediate attention, and 2) data-based insights are critical for determining the right solution.

Reframing Clinical Sites as “Customers”

Now that you understand the urgency of the need to improve clinical site retention, as well as the criticality of having data to support our approach, where do you begin? The process starts by reframing the way you think about your relationship with clinical sites. They are not just contractors; they are customers.

Just like any other customer, they have the choice whether to work with you. And, the truth is that you need them more than they need you. Running a trial requires layering work on top of running their regular medical practice, and we know from the Duke-FDA study that the challenge of juggling both is the number one reason why PIs stop after just one trial.

How does reframing clinical sites and investigators as customers help you address this issue? Well, physicians and their staff members are consumers, just like the rest of us. They are just as inundated with information and choices as we are, and they expect (need) interactions to be easy, simple, useful, painless, convenient, and – ideally – engaging. Acknowledging this fact helps you to shift the way you view them, and opens up a whole new world of options for improving site performance and reducing clinical trial costs; a world rooted in customer experience (CX) methodology.

In the next post in this series, I’ll explain what CX methodology is and how it’s used. In the meantime, here are a couple of related resources: our guide on this topic, and our free, online self-assessment of your “CX IQ” score. The assessment takes about 10 minutes to complete and gives you:

  • Your overall CX IQ score
  • A summary of your CX strengths and opportunities
  • Actionable recommendations for your key areas of CX opportunity

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Marin Richeson

Marin joined the life sciences industry in 2001. Over the course of her tenure, she has held roles in clinical finance, IT, quality assurance, and validation. The diversity of her experience provides her with a unique perspective on the interconnectedness of this complex, multi-faceted industry. Marin Richeson is a lead business consultant in Perficient's life sciences practice.

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