Do Clinical Research Sites Need A FICO Score?
I interviewed Barry Lake from Devana Solutions which is a clinical research CRM for research clinics that want to get more studies for their businesses and also track important metrics such as CDA turnaround time, feasibility turnaround time, and contract and budget turnaround time amongst other things.
Berry started as a research clinic owner in South Carolina and very soon began to partner with other research clinics, first in the southern region and then across the country, while building an informal alliance which is now a very successful 25+ research site network. Devana Solutions started as an internal tool built on top of salesforce.com and eventually evolved into a robust standalone product which is now available to any research clinic in the world as of 2016. From the clinical research site perspective there are several operational inefficiencies that the Devana aims to remedy. One of them is automating a research site’s pipeline of study leads. Another is site feasibility turnaround time which is the survey that sponsors or CRO’s send to potential research clinics in order to be considered for a particular clinical trial. Berry initially created this software for his own alliance of research sites in order to effectively track the aforementioned metrics and deal flow. What he soon discovered was that this could be a viable product used by all research sites in the industry and in 2016 made Devana Solutions available to anyone in the industry. One of his largest clients is INC Research which through their catalyst program has partnered with an allied itself with numerous experienced research clinics and KOL’s across a multitude of therapeutic indications in order to give them access to more trials as well as boast about their patient enrollment capabilities to sponsors when they go out on bid defenses.
Other CRO’s have also enhanced their own patient recruitment capabilities by expanding their influence over clinical research sites. Some CRO’s have even outright acquired research clinics in order to win the bids over competitors from the pharmaceutical sponsors when they are seeking CRO's to manage their clinical trials. It will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on these things as the industry evolves, but for now Devana Solutions is a simple plug-in for the CRO's or large research site networks or SMO's to effectively track their metrics from a business development perspective.
One of the more interesting things that we spoke of involves having a FICO-like score for each clinical research site. Currently sponsors and CRO’s are keeping their own metrics on site performance. They track everything from regulatory start up time, to time required to resolve queries, to enrollment rates, to screen fail ratios, and serious adverse events. Some sponsors even share this these metrics with others through informal as well as formal collaborations such as Transcelerate. Devana will allow sites to know how they are performing internally and for the good performing sites this will allow them to effectively market their clinical research services to sponsors and CRO’s. For the smaller less experience sites, it will allow them to track their own metrics so that they can continuously improve and gain market share in their space.
Converting a study lead to an actual selection letter usually takes months if not one year and involves on average, according to Barry, 7.8 people in the process. As one can see, business development for a research clinic is no easy task as the potential study can fall apart at any time if sufficient follow up is not religiously pursued. Devana Solutions currently costs $447 a month for two users per site. I have not had the chance to play around with the platform as of yet, but the potential is there and this may be a legitimate industry disruptor at least from the clinical research site perspective as research sites typically don’t have access to sophisticated business development tools at their disposal. We will certainly follow up with Berry in the next six months or so and see if they've been able to add more sites to Devana’s customer base. Currently 100 sites have signed up as well as the aforementioned INC research through their catalyst program. The goal is to get 300 sites signed up by the end of 2017.