5 Reasons CROs Should Outsource Their Investigator Site Payments

With about half of a clinical trial budget made up of investigator grants, site payments are a hinge point in the relationship between CROs, sponsors and sites. As a CRO, you must devote quality attention to your payments, but a lack of in-house resources, time, and administrative expertise can leave you with an unintended reputation for poor payment processes. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case. Here are five reasons CROs should outsource site payments:

1. Improve Site Recruitment and Sustainability

Sites pay more attention to studies with better payment terms and processes, and for good reason. According to the SCRS Site Landscape Survey (2014-2017), nearly two-thirds of sites have less than three months of operating funds on hand. Sites can’t afford to function like lending institutions with slow payment terms—when it comes down to it, running their business requires timely funding. If your sites aren’t getting what they need, you could be putting your trial in jeopardy.

When it comes to recruitment, outsourcing payments helps you become a CRO of choice. According to the 2017 SCRS White Paper on Budget and Payment Systems, 90% of sites consider monthly payments ‘extremely or very important’ – this statistic can’t be ignored. Continued inefficiency in your site payment terms and processes will affect the likelihood of sites wanting to work with you. Along with the potential for strained or severed relationships with your go-to sites, poor payment processes fail to provide new sites with a sense of trust. On the other hand, a payment process highly focused on site needs and timely, accurate payments will greatly increase your desirability as a CRO in the competitive market.

2. Allows CROs to Focus on Higher Value Activities

Even when information seems straightforward, managing site spending and payment terms without the right tools often leaves you faced with homespun data trackers you can barely navigate. To make matters more complicated, you are likely responsible for overseeing multiple studies, often with payment terms that must meet global requirements and regulations. Devoting quality attention to your payment process is essential, but problems can—and do—arise when CROs find themselves stretched too thin, unable to balance payment management while still focusing on their areas of expertise.

Outsourcing to a company that specializes in site payments allows for a centralization of financial data, leading to better management of clinical trial costs and payments. Assess your primary abilities and consider which tasks to keep in-house and which might be better outsourced to leverage your therapeutic expertise, geographic coverage, quality resources and project management teams. CROs don’t have to be experts at everything—focus on your greatest qualities and let specialists manage the administrative tasks.

3. Maintain Better Control of Your Financial Portfolio

Investigator grants make up 40-50% of a trial budget, so the importance of maintaining control of your financial portfolio cannot be understated. Don’t let inaccurate site payment tracking leave you out of money and unable to pay your sites. Let your finance and management teams rest easy knowing they have real visibility and meaningful forecasts.  Outsourcing payments to specialists with the expertise and technology resources to attend to the intricacies of each study’s payment terms could be the difference between financial stability and disaster.  

4. Help Sponsors Meet Aggregate Spend Reporting Requirement

Sponsors are responsible for reporting payments to regulatory bodies within the US and in several other countries. Outsourcing to a company that specializes in payments will provide centralized financial data, giving you a clear line of access to accurate reports. Be able to readily support your clients’ needs for transparent information about payments instead of spending time and resources struggling internally with your ERP and clinops data.

5. Gain a Competitive Advantage—A Service You Can Sell

Payments are a major industry burden and routinely reported as a top complaint by investigators.  In fact, 56% of sponsors and CROs acknowledge that the majority of payments are delayed (MCC 2017 Clinical Site Payment Study), and those delays are likely already on top of poor payment terms. Outsourcing would allow you to tout that you are not part of the statistic. You’ll be able to say with confidence that your sites enjoy working with you, which will also reflect positively on your sponsor clients.

Outsourcing your payments to dedicated experts with a purpose-built technology means that you’ll be able to carve out some real-estate in your proposals to discuss how you’ve addressed a chief industry issue. You can even talk about it in your bid defense meetings to differentiate yourself from your competitors—or to ensure you won’t be left behind if they also offer a good solution.  

In Summary

With expert solutions available, don’t let underestimated payment tasks overwhelm your relationships with your investigator sites. Live vicariously through a payment partner who provides access to industry-leading technology without the worry about configuration and management.  Moreover, let your clinical and finance teams enjoy financial transparency and freedom from the operational burdens of site payments. Outsourcing to payment specialists will ensure reliable and efficient processes, encouraging opportunities for fruitful partnerships, innovative contributions to clinical research, and new therapeutic developments for patients.