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Cost and compliance turning CROs to outsourced site payment providers

By Dan Stanton+

23-Jan-2014
Last updated on 24-Jan-2014 at 11:15 GMT

The need to improve efficiency and comply with regulatory and geographical demands is driving the third-party clinical payment industry, say Greenphire, CFS and Clinverse.

Clinverse signed a strategic partnership this week to use Datatrak International’s cloud-based eClinical technology platform with its ClinPay clinical payment system in order to help investigators and CROs streamline the payment process and reduce workload, time, and related costs.

With fellow company Greenphire reaching the milestone of one million payments through its clinical payment platform last week, Outsourcing-Pharma.com spoke to both companies, along with a third major player, CFS Clinical, to find out how the industry has changed and why a CRO might outsource patient payments.

“Paying investigator sites for their performance in trials has been a sore subject and number one complaint of sites for years,” said Kevin Williams, VP Corporate Development & Marketing at CFS. “The reality is most sites, cannot afford to finance research activities from sponsors for 3-5 months (historical payment average) without getting paid.”

Jeff Rogers, Chief Commercial Officer at Clinverse, compared the current clinical payment industry to the early days of electronic data capture (EDC), which began the move away from manual milestone schedules.

“This is an emerging market, with only a few structured solutions in the space,” he said, adding “it is one of the last frontiers ripe for innovation and automation because to properly manage and support the intricacies of clinical payments on a global scale, there is a lot to think about,” and thus the barrier to entry is fairly significant.

However, there is evidence the industry is adapting, said Greenphire CEO Sam Whitaker, with increased volumes of automated payments going through its system to the detriment of manual.

“In our current cost-sensitive environment, payments are increasingly being seen not just as a necessary part of conducting a trial, but as a source of information for planning and managing trials,” he said. “By centralizing and automating payment management, CROs & sponsors can have increased insight into how to best manage a trial at the lowest possible cost.”

Why Outsource?

Whitaker continued to say that sponsors and CROs are increasingly seeing the value of clinical financial data centralization through better management of trial costs and the elimination of manual and disparate processes, freeing up resources to focus on the job at hand.

Rogers added Clinverse’ system reduced time spent on financial and admin duties by clinical staff by as much as 40%, and for one client (who was not divulged ) was able to enroll 9,000 subjects in six months.

Furthermore, explained Williams, “[last year’s] Sunshine Act and growing Aggregate Spend/Transpancy requirements have also driven sponsors and CROs to standardize with companies like ours.

Geographical Issues

Finally, “sponsor companies are more often required to expand their studies beyond the United States and North America,” said Rogers. “This results in more complex trials and logistics that may not apply when conducting clinical trials in North America only.”

Rogers’ views were mirrored by CFS and Greenphire, who both spoke of language barriers, currency issues, foreign exchange rates and regulatory differences between countries, which – without a technology solution – can be very difficult.

CROs can partner with a focused expert to overcome these issues, said Williams. “At the end of the day, we are addressing the many headaches of finding, engaging and paying investigators to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone.”

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