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Time is Money! Increasing Efficiencies in Clinical Research

“Time is money,” Ben Franklin famously said. In the business world, wasted time equates to missed opportunities. Opportunity costs are simply defined as doing one activity in excess at the expense of not participating in another productive activity.

At the academic medical center I worked at for many years, clinical trial coordinators vehemently complained during our monthly Clinical Research Operations meetings as to how their work was being impeded by the manual accounting tasks required to issue clinical trial participant travel and study visit reimbursements (checks and gift cards). “We are not accountants and fiscal analysts,” they would say. Furthermore, they asked if I knew just how much time these processes were taking away from their primary responsibility - managing the trial and recruiting patients.

Today we’re fortunate to work in an era of innovation and digitization. The outdated paper-based processes our study coordinators were frustrated by are rapidly being replaced by automation. At Greenphire, as our team consults with academic institutions, a central goal is to help sites become more efficient by highlighting expense and waste in the form of “opportunity costs.” We ask institutions how much it costs to manage their current payment processes. The easy answer is often, “well, we issued approximately 10,000 gift cards last year x $4 each = $40,000.” “Oh, and we cut checks too…approximately 5,000 checks x 35 cent stamp x 5 cents/envelope = $2,000….so, roughly $42K or so?” Not so fast, these are crude approximations of only hard costs.

What about the MOST expensive cost of all that comes in the form of a soft cost – time!? Specifically, study coordinator time to submit manual forms, email and hand-carry documents, time spent waiting for supervisor and Office of Finance approval, and many other steps in the process. Taken together, these steps are contributing to a massive opportunity cost for academia. The math to quantify this cost then becomes exponential when you multiply that single study time spent on these tasks across the institution for all the departments, divisions, and study teams. Wow, that’s a lot of wasted time!

The good news is the solution is simple. Replace these inefficiencies with streamlined automation. ClinCard consolidates all these steps with instantaneous transactions and approvals (i.e., mouse clicks) through our web-based study management portal and the reloadable ClinCard.

In summary, study coordinators are extremely hard-working professionals. One way to help improve morale and increase job satisfaction is to automate their work tasks by embracing technology--reduce “opportunity cost”, frustration, and expense. Get better by working smarter with ClinCard!

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.