Hello! I’m Dr. Jeff Kingsley and welcome to another edition of Riding in Cars With Researchers. Today we are going to talk to study sites and to business development people about your pipeline: about how to look at your pipeline and how to improve study award.
Research is getting harder and you cannot be passive about the research trials that you get. You have got to be aggressive about it. Trials are getting harder, we are putting fewer patients in every trial, so therefore, you need more trials. You have to be able to do more trials to be successful with research.
First let’s talk about the funnel. That’s how you should be looking at your pipeline and your pipeline report. You should look at your funnel a couple different ways.
All Studies Available
The top of the funnel is all the research going on in the world – it’s pretty wide funnel. It doesn’t have to be that wide, but it could be all the research being done in the world. Well, realistically, the top of the funnel should be all the research being done in your country. But if you’re a cardiology-specific research site, then I suppose the top of the funnel should be all the cardiology research going on in your country. And if you don’t do Phase 1 trials, then maybe the top of your funnel is all of the Phase 2 trials through Phase 4 cardiology research going on in your country. Why could you look at a bigger funnel? Well, because you do have other options. If you’re a cardiology focus site and you’re struggling to get enough research while you could branch into gastroenterology, and so that’s why looking at the higher levels of the funnel could teach you something. You could say, well, I’m going to open up a site in a different country or a different aspect of the country that you’re in, but let’s table that for now.
So, the top of your funnel is all of the research going on in the phases that you operate and in the medical specialties in which you operate in – it’s all the ones that you would like to be awarded. The next layer down in your funnel is how many feasibility questionnaires you received. You can find out about all the cardiology research going on in Phase 2-4 in the United States this year. How many feasibility questionnaires did I receive? The difference between those two numbers tells you how well known you are in the industry. How often did the industry know you existed and would be interested in bidding on their project? That’s important for you to know because it tells you how well you’re getting your message out there.
Now, every time you fill out a feasibility questionnaire, that’s a study that you wanted. No one ever fills out a feasibility questionnaire on a trial that they don’t want. If you know you don’t want it, you don’t bother filling out the feasibility question. Of all the feasibility questionnaires that you fill out, what percent are you getting called back for a study visit for a fee? That’s an important conversion rates and what that conversion is telling you is how well you’re doing on pitching yourself in feasibility questionnaires. It could tell you a lot of things. It could tell you that you’re filling up feasibility questionnaires that frankly you are just not qualified for, so you have a very low conversion rate. It can tell you that you’re just not marketing yourself well enough in those feasibility questionnaires. You’re not selling WHY they should be interested in coming and meeting you.
The next layer down in your funnel is those study visits, those site selection visits or PSVs. Of all the feasibility question you are filling out, how often are you getting PSVs. Of all the PSVs that you do, how often are you getting study award? That tells you how well you’re performing at PSVs.
It’s important for you to look at your funnel continuously. It teaches you how well you are doing in your business development process and it teaches you where you should focus next. Continuous improvement is important. All these conversion rates, can I improve my conversion rate even 1%? Maybe one of your conversion rates is really, really poor. Can you improve that conversion rate 10% this year? What would it take to improve that conversion rate 10% this year? Drill down. What are all the actions I can take to improve that conversion rate 10% this year? Because improving these conversion rates by default leads to more study awards, more study awards will lead to more revenue and more success for you and your site.
How to Get Study Awards
Now let’s talk about how you get study awards and I categorize it in three ways. It’s all really marketing, but there’s really three things: relationships, databases, and your differentiation. I’ve talked about differentiation a lot in Riding in Cars With Researchers episodes.
We are in an industry of relationships. It’s amazing how many study awards you get because of relationships, because people in the industry know you personally, and view you personally as someone they want to do business with. They want to do research with. Relationships are huge!
We are a huge industry – there are so many research sites, so many physicians, so many research studies, such complexity. It’s easy to get forgotten. In our industry, many times at the beginning of every trial when they’re beginning to think about sites, they go first to databases. Most sponsors and CROs maintain their own internal database of research sites and physicians investigators. There are also other industry databases that they can leverage as well to find research sites. You’ve got to be in every one of those databases and it’s time consuming. It’s not easy. They don’t make it easy. They’re not trying to make it hard. It’s just not easy. It’s a lot of detail to be filled out and it’s a lot of detail then to be maintained once you start adding information into these databases. The biggest ones would be things like drug development and SIP, the Shared Investigator Platform, which is something that came out of Transcelerate. All the Transcelerate companies aren’t using SIP, but many are and it’s gaining traction rapidly. You need to get all of your physicians in the SIP and you need to get details on what medical specialties they can operate in their experience in previous research trials, their capabilities, capacities. That’s a great way you’ll get study award.
If you have relationships and you have information in databases, but frankly you’re no different than most all the other sites than perhaps the relationship building and the submissions to databases was not all that fruitful. You’ve got to differentiate yourself. Why should somebody care if they find you in a database, if they meet you in an industry meeting and exchange business cards with you – why should they care? Why are you any different from the tens of thousands of other research sites out there?
So, you need to teach them and you need to have a mechanism to teach others in the industry why you are differentiated – why they should care. Talk about your staff, talk about your patient population, talk about your metrics, talk about your uniqueness. Your focus may be all you do is NASH research and if all you do is NASH research that’s very, very, very focused and could be a reason for the industry to say, “Wow, this is a sub-specialized research site. We need to put all of our NASH trials there.” That would be an example of focus. Your focus could be that you don’t do clinical medicine – all you do is research – that’s another example of focus. Staff capabilities, focus, and metrics.
You need to know your conversion rates. That’s going to tell you where you can focus to improve your conversion rates, which improves study award and then when you’re doing these things, relationship database, and marketing differentiation. You need to pay attention to each one and show the industry why they should care.
FQ/Total x 100 = How Well You Are Known
PSV/FQ x 100 = How You Are Presenting on Paper
Study Award/PSV x 100 = How You Are Presenting in Person
Doing all of this is going to build your research empire and help you help me revolutionize research and change in this industry.
Implement these things. Reach out to me and let me know how you’re doing. Suggest future topics! Follow us on social media – when you follow us, for example, on Youtube, it helps us be seen by others. We also produce this series as a podcast. When you follow that podcast and subscribe, it then helps push this material and content out to other research sites around the country and the world. Recently I was told that one of the videos I had done several months ago has become very big in Australia and they thanked me for all of the publicity that it created for them in Australia. Pretty cool. It’s a small world, so I appreciate it.
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