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Heroes on the Front Line of COVID 19: Research PIs, Administrators, and Study Coordinators Behind the Scenes

Over the past month, I’ve been on the phone with sites every day - in the US and abroad – hearing about how they’ve weathered the COVID-19 storm. I’ve been amazed at the resilience of the frontline researchers. Those one-on-one conversations mirror what we learned in our recent site survey. Greenphire conducted a survey a few weeks ago of sites around the world and in a matter of hours, we got more than 1,800 responses highlighting challenges they’re facing in light of COVID-19.

In my role as a Solutions Specialist, I’m always looking for best practices from sites in utilizing our solutions or to understand obstacles on the operational business side of clinical research. The survey surfaced three key themes, and I’ve summarized them along with actual quotes submitted below.

Ensuring Safety and Maintaining Patient Engagement

Patient health and safety of trial participants is always paramount in the conduct of clinical trials. The sudden disruption and or suspension of trials caused by closures and “social distancing” accentuated this issue for several survey respondents.  A survey response to study participants included this caring and cautious guidance, “we are here to help and provide a listening ear for those (of you) who need it. Please follow every precaution, stay home, and we will contact you by phone. Be safe.”  Another site commented, “I am in constant contact with my patients via phone calls, emails and texts to answer any questions or concerns they may have, and also to provide medical information and instructions when needed.”

These efforts are brief examples of compassion and true professionalism we received in our survey in the face of today’s adversity.  These study teams are truly heroes on the front line.

Adaptation to Remote Work and Protocol Modifications

A second theme that emerged was how study teams were creating improvised approaches to normal study visit and protocol activities.  Several cited leveraging video technologies if the protocol would allow for a remote study visit in the participant’s home.  Several respondents commented that we hope that “small payments” sent for virtual study visits could be an important way to help with retention.   Several survey respondents further indicated that if a “service” was offered to transport medications to a participants home they would seek to utilize that mechanism, or, if a “service” existed to transport study staff to the home, they would seek to utilize that service too. 

A few sites have also utilized local laboratories near the participants home for blood draws if the participant was unable to visit the primary study site, “we were able to reimburse these participants remotely for any out of pocket lab costs via the ClinCard.”

Digital Payment Technology and ClinCard’s Advantages

Several respondents described how ClinCard’s remote digital payment was working well for virtual trial management.  In fact, at Greenphire, several research groups have reached out to us this month explaining that “gift cards and non-reloadable bank cards are not working in the remote study visit setting, could they see a demo of ClinCard?” A survey respondent highlighted this issue, “having the option to pay patients using ClinCard has been a true ease.” Another commented, “we continue to do interviews by phone (during COVID) and ClinCards are uploading without a problem”

Finally, one researcher noted, “we are paying patients earlier than usual to help them have additional funds during this time. We are also calling them to make sure they know the funds are on their ClinCards.” 

Recognizing the Heroes Behind the Scenes

Greenphire highlighted the areas above to share important examples of study teams in our industry adapting through adversity, but most importantly, we wanted to recognize the “heroes behind the scenes”-- all of you in the clinical trial industry and share examples of commitment and caring.

We’ve summarized these survey insights and also have these two resources for you:

  • Infographic: Here you’ll find additional trends in delivering patient care amidst the COVID-19 crisis
  • Webinar Replay: Our CEO Jim Murphy and CPO Kyle Cunningham recently presented, “COVID-19 & Clinical Trials: Evolving Challenges and How Greenphire Can Help.”

Want to learn more about Greenphire’s solutions for sponsors, sites and CROs? Visit our website.

Joe Gough
Written by Joe Gough

Joe Gough is a Solutions Specialist for Academic Medical Centers and Universities . Working with the Greenphire Site team, my goal is to communicate the value of clinical trial patient payment automation to academic medical centers, universities and select government-related research networks.