On a weekly basis I have the pleasure of speaking with sponsor and CRO teams about managing global investigator payments. I love hearing their stories about how they're working now, the challenges they're facing, and processes and workarounds they've developed to get sites paid (and hopefully keep them happy). This is no easy feat as traditional investigator payment processes are manual, time-consuming and an administrative headache for both sponsors and sites.
I then showcase our technology, validating their processes but demonstrating how the entire workflow can be automated - reducing their workload from 1-3 hours per invoice down to nothing (some clients have told me they wished it only took 3 hours to review/approve/pay each invoice!). In many of my meetings, I get to see the physical "aha" moment - smiles, head nods, sighs of relief, and in some cases jaws literally drop when they see how much time and effort can be saved through automation.
However, too many times I've heard from sponsors that they went with a solution they thought would work - only to find out the "automation" is not so automatic - that customer support is outsourced, spreadsheets still need to be emailed back and forth and sites are still calling them asking, "when am I getting paid?" and when it finally does arrive asking, "what is this payment for?"
In an effort to help you avoid these situations, I have put together a list of things to consider when choosing to implement investigator payment technology:
- Global Expertise – Provider maintains a core focus on payment automation specific to clinical research – an organization who understands the global nuances and financial/administrative challenges faced by clinical trial stakeholders
- Usability – User-friendly site and sponsor-facing portal – one with an intuitive workflow that removes administrative burdens from site staff, allowing them to remain focused on research related tasks
- Transparency – Financial and workflow visibility that enhances predictability and control for sponsors through comprehensive reporting, while ensuring site staff have a view into payment status, type, etc.
- Scalability – Flexible and configurable to meet the needs of any study or program, no matter the size/scope, protocol complexity, therapeutic area or market – enabling standardization across the entire enterprise while accommodating country-specific regulations and requirements
- Flexible Delivery Model – Offers a delivery model that meets your specific organizational needs;
- Full-Service Model - vendor is responsible for system configuration
- Self-Service Model - client has the ability to configure their own program and;
- Hybrid Model – includes any combination of the above models
- Invoice Automation – Enables system generated, compliant invoices, removing the need for sites to upload their own invoice
- Approvals Workflow – Multi-level, customizable approvals to ensure all required checks and authorizations are completed prior to payment execution
- Fixed / Variable Split Payments – Manage complex payee scenarios with the ability to configure the system to allocate payments (fixed or variable amounts / percentages) to the appropriate payees by country, study, site, etc.
- Tax Management – Flexible to handle taxation requirements relevant to clinical R&D (VAT, GST) – configure appropriate tax types, rates and associated exemptions, based on payer / supplier dynamics and global regulations
Through specialized technology, you can streamline and gain visibility into otherwise complex investigator payment workflows, ultimately improving your relationships with sites. But before deciding on a solution, make sure that it is the right fit for your organization and will truly introduce efficiencies and improve the clinical trial experience.