Site selection is a complex process composed of multiple factors on which research sites are evaluated. It may seem as if your success is solely in the hands of sponsors and CROs, but there are several things you can do to help your site get selected on more studies. Here are three tips from the site selection and business development team at PharmaSeek:
Tip 1: Get started by Building Meaningful Relationships
If you want to start conducting more clinical trials, the first step is to network and build meaningful relationships with other sites and sponsors/CROs. If you don’t know where to begin, start by leveraging existing relationships you have with other sites that conduct clinical trials to get familiar with the study startup process. Though it’s a simple step, networking is a conscious effort to ensure that your site’s name is getting out there. If you’re sending research staff to attend conferences, make sure to attend sessions and make use of the allotted networking time to track down key contacts. Once you gain these contacts, remember to stay in touch and build relationships.
Tip 2: Treat the Questionnaire Like a Job Interview
Instead of treating the feasibility survey as another document to be filled out, try to view it as an opportunity to sell your site and stand out from the crowd. It’s easy to just check the necessary boxes and answer the bare minimum, but take advantage of those open-ended questions and comment sections to show why your site is a good fit for a study. Does your PI have an extensive research background? Do you have a lot of patients with the listed indication? If you’re trying to break into a new therapeutic area, this is the place to provide context to the sponsor by including an explanation of why the sponsor should take a chance on your site. Similar to a resume, you need to highlight the selling points of your research site.
An easy way to streamline this process is to have a standard procedure in place to ensure a study is a good fit. Have your enrollment metrics of past studies on hand and attach site promotional materials, like brochures, a website link, or a list of studies conducted. By having all of this information at an arm’s reach, it’ll ensure you don’t miss anything when you begin filling out the survey.
Tip 3: Anticipate Red flags
If possible, think of any weaknesses your site might have in relation to the study you’re applying for and address them before the sponsor can. It gives you the chance to craft your answers to show you acknowledge a certain pitfall and what you have in place to address the issue.
Here are some quick examples:
“How many Type 2 diabetes patients do you treat per month?”
- Weak Answer: “0”
- Stronger Answer: “We are a dedicated research facility and only see subjects for clinical trials. We have 1,000 Type 2 diabetics in our research database who want to participate in trials, and approximately 25% of them would meet the I/E criteria.”
“How many studies has your PI conducted?”
- Weak Answer: “0”
- Stronger Answer: “None, but he has received GCP training and has been a Sub‐I on five studies. Our site has conducted over 100 trials in the last 10 years, including 12 for this indication. Our study coordinator has 15 years of research experience.”
A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in the sponsor’s shoes and ask, would this answer cause concern? It’s always best to provide an explanation for a shortcoming. Whether the protocol was especially difficult or the previous study simply closed early, you want to be transparent with the sponsor. Even if there were no external causes and your site just didn’t perform well on a study, provide the sponsor with any lessons learned and how you will avoid a repeat performance.
Once you’ve started conducting a study, remember to make use of this momentum! Focus on business development and maintain relationships with key personnel. If you have a successful trial, piggyback off the success and explore strategic alliances. The landscape of clinical trials is always evolving and it’s important to maintain the relationships you form along the way.