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Strengthening clinical research sites
RALEIGH, N.C.—INC Research, a global Phase 1 to 4 contract research organization (CRO), had some extensive participation in the Society for Clinical Research Sites’ (SCRS) 11th Annual Global Site Solutions Summit this October. INC Research thought leaders participated in seven sessions to discuss issues that impact the way sites conduct research and recruit patients, while offering strategies to improve collaboration between CROs and sites to more effectively benefit patients.
INC Research began its participation with Dr. Clare Grace, vice president of site and patient access, who participated in the summit’s first plenary session, “Sites Matter: Industry Collaboration.” This explored ongoing transformations affecting sites, including investigator turnover, general public awareness of clinical research, site study dashboards, site payments and standardized contract clauses. On day two of the summit, Grace facilitated a “Site Solving” breakout session around fixing the clinical trial awareness challenge and shared highlights from the recent “Inspiring Hope” Ideathon, a crowdsolving event that INC Research and the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) co-hosted recently in Boston, which brought together a cross-section of stakeholders across the industry to share and develop innovative ideas for increasing awareness of, and participation in, clinical trials.
“We are excited to once again be participating in the SCRS Global Site Solutions Summit, an event that consistently has been instrumental in bringing sites, CROs and sponsors together to improve how we all work together in clinical research,” said Grace. “The strides we’ve made in recent years to streamline different aspects of the clinical trial process, such as investigator payments, is evidence of this collaboration, but we still have a long way to go. Connecting with sites in such a synergistic environment gives us an opportunity to gain a better understanding of their perspectives and remain mindful of all of the valuable contributions they make in bringing new medicines to market. Without sites, we simply wouldn’t be able to deliver clinical trials.”
The participation at the summit also gave INC a chance to pitch its services.
In an effort to strengthen collaborations with clinical research sites worldwide, INC Research is inviting sites to join its Catalyst Community, an online forum designed to support ongoing communication and information exchange on the conduct of clinical trials, wider adoption of new methodologies and evolving best practices. The goal of the community, which is open to all clinical research sites, is to harness the input and insights from sites across the globe in order to develop best practices which increase the quality and predictability of trials, and develop continuous site improvements in the delivery of clinical research.
According to Tracey Gashi, executive director of site and patient access at INC Research, “The Catalyst Community is just one part of INC Research’s Catalyst program. The program builds on INC Research’s commitment to establishing longstanding and productive site relationships. Through the Catalyst program, INC Research aims to increase predictability and to drive new methodologies and continuous improvement in the delivery of clinical research.”
The other part of the Catalyst program is the Catalyst Site Network.
“The Catalyst Site Network consists of a select set of high-performing sites that are strategically aligned to INC Research’s business and that of our customers,” Gashi explains. “These networks are therapeutically aligned and consist of a variety of sites, including individual practices, academic centers of excellence and site networks. INC Research works with these sites to gather input and insights from our global clinical research sites when developing best practices for clinical research.”
The two halves are very much meant to complement each other.
“The Catalyst Community is an online forum which is open to all sites, and it provides INC Research with the opportunity to engage with a broader group of sites to support ongoing communication on the conduct of clinical trials, wider adoption of new methodologies and best practice sharing. It also enables sites to have a voice into the initiatives borne out of the Catalyst Site Network,” says Gashi. “Our goals for the Catalyst Community are to facilitate best practice sharing with as many global sites as possible, and to give these sites the opportunity to have their opinions and input heard and acted upon. The forum accessed through the incConnect for Investigative site platform also gives all sites access to many of the benefits the Catalyst Sites receive in a self-service format. It enables those sites to streamline their administration, and reduce administrative burden on the site.”
While at the SCRS summit, INC Research also presented new insights from a paper titled “Addressing Pain Points of Investigator Payments for Clinical Trials.” This paper addresses the challenges surrounding site payments, and highlights key insights from the INC Research Site Advocacy Group (SAG), which was established to address such issues and outline initiatives to improve the process.
“Issues regarding payment to sites for services conducted on clinical trials has been a longstanding issue, and one that INC Research has been keen to understand and respond to,” says Gashi. “In order to achieve this, INC Research was the first CRO to engage with sites through SAG, in collaboration with SCRS. As a result of the feedback gathered from the sites as part of the SAG, INC Research has already streamlined our internal processes to address a number of these issues, and has published a white paper summarizing the challenges sites face surrounding site payments and the initiatives already underway to improve this process. INC Research has continued to be an advocate for sites around this issue, and is an active participant of the industry-wide payment work stream that SCRS is leading.”
INC Research has served as a member of SCRS, as well as a Global Impact Partner to the organization, since 2014. By partnering with SCRS, INC Research says it is contributing to making clinical research more sustainable for clinical research sites, and the company points out that through it sponsorship activities with SCRS, INC has funded more than 500 site scholarships that provide the training, mentorship and advocacy that sites need to become members of a world-class clinical research community. INC Research is also actively engaging with the SCRS to strengthen and grow its global membership through the SCRS Ambassador Program.
“INC Research is also committed to building awareness of, and participation in, clinical trials. By bringing together the research enterprise in novel ways and driving the conversation around barriers and motivators for patients, INC Research aims to increase clinical trial participation,” Gashi tells DDNews. “The ‘Inspiring Hope’ Ideathon held in September 2016 by INC Research and CISCRP continues to raise awareness and understanding of clinical trials while supporting health literacy with patients, healthcare professionals and the general population.”
“INC Research is dedicated to improving the clinical development process for sites and through our dedication to clinical innovation, we’ve refined our working methodologies to streamline all aspects of the clinical development process, including taking non-core procedures out of protocols wherever possible, and employing a more efficient risk-based approach to monitoring,” Gashi concludes.