The need for technology has been trending upwards for years, even before being vastly accelerated by COVID-19. As we move further into the digital age, technology and software have become not only the norm in our everyday lives but also the foundation upon which entire businesses and industries are built. The days of pen to paper, tedious manual processes and lengthy turnaround times are falling further into the rearview mirror, as intuitive applications and automation platforms take the stage.
For clinical trial sites, the emergence of software suites have enabled research coordinators to greatly reduce, or entirely eliminate barriers that were once commonplace. Financial, logistical, and administrative challenges have all become increasingly simplified for site staff with fit-for-purpose systems, including Greenphire’s ClinCard (participant reimbursements), ConneX (participant travel) and eClinicalGPS (site payments). With technologies such as these in place, participant retention is on the rise, while administrative headaches are declining.
However, the advent of these continuously evolving applications brings forth a simple, yet often overlooked emerging challenge – proper user training. After all, a tool is only as valuable as its ability to be used effectively.
In my time as a product trainer at Greenphire, having trained over 650 site users in the last 6 months, I have witnessed firsthand the growing challenge of technology suites for site staff.
These researchers have become increasingly burdened with numerous software applications now required to use for various components of conducting a clinical trial, frequently with little to no guidance as to how the application works. In a survey conducted by Greenphire in partnership with SCRS, 13% of sites said they use 0-3 portals or applications, 12% use 4-6, 25% use 7-10, and 50% of sites reporting they use a staggering 11+ portals to run their trials.
Oftentimes, users are provided with limited and minimally helpful materials for other technologies. The trainee is unable to ask questions, resulting in the rabbit hole of support tickets in order to address their queries.
Taking this feedback as a call to action, Greenphire has invested in multiple education programs, both within our site-facing technology and live sessions conducted through a dedicated team of product trainers, offering system overviews and application demonstrations.
What do these trainings look like? First, we always host them with a particular audience in mind, covering only the relevant products and application models for attendees. We know that site time is precious and if site coordinators are participating in a training, that training needs to cover exactly what they need to know so they don’t have to waste further time looking for answers. Additionally, we ensure that the trainings are globally available and conducted in various time zones. In Europe? We have trainers there, for example, so trainings are conducted at a time frame convenient for them. Also, in each training my colleagues and I conduct, participants are able to ask questions during or prior to the conclusion of the course. Any attendee with questions that are unable to be answered during the live session personally receives a follow-up email directly from a member of our team, ensuring that no stone is left unturned when it comes to their understanding of the system they are using.
Alongside the launch of live training sessions, we are continuously creating additional reference guides and FAQs, and training materials are being developed and integrated directly into Greenphire systems, where they can be accessed by the application users at any time. These guides can already be found in the newly released Knowledge Center within eClinicalGPS, and are expected to be released for the ClinCard portal in the coming months.
This catered approach to user education has resulted in the successful training of over 1,000 Site Coordinators within the first four months since May of 2021, with overwhelmingly positive feedback in terms of its effectiveness for end users. It’s gratifying to witness site staff feeling empowered to begin their journey in using Greenphire products because they are fully equipped with the knowledge they need in order to efficiently and effectively utilize the applications to their full value throughout the lifecycle of their studies. It is powerful to see the effect that hands-on training can have for sites, so that they can continue to perform their life-saving research, without having to worry about administrative hurdles.
Training is just one component of our comprehensive Client Experience. For more information about Greenphire Product Training for sites, please reach out to your Greenphire point of contact today!
For over a decade, ClinCard has been helping clinical trials run more efficiently and effectively. Sites conducting critical studies have been enabled to focus more on the research at hand, instead of being weighed down by administrative burdens related to participant payments. The benefits of ClinCard are clear to site clinicians, but what about patients? In our latest site satisfaction survey, sites weighed in that ClinCard does not just benefit them, but provides an improved experience for trial participants as well.
Here’s what they cite as the top benefits for those involved in clinical trials and studies:
- Method of Payment
Traditional methods of participant payment include cash, checks, and gift cards. These methods have not only presented massive administrative hurdles to sites, but present challenges to patients as well. Gift cards can be inherently restrictive, with limited merchant acceptance. Cash itself proves to be challenging, for both patients and sites if funds are lost or stolen.
When asked about the benefits of ClinCard as their method of payment, one site indicated it was such a high value because “[Participants] can use it anywhere”, and another explained, “Families are familiar with using bank cards, so they seem to like the process”. ClinCard acts as any other Visa debit card, able to be used anywhere, at any time, with ease. Participants still maintain the option to withdraw cash, or deposit into a bank account if needed, but they are not required to travel or have access to any sort of additional technology to access their funds. If the card is lost or stolen, freezing funds, and receiving a new card is a smooth process for sites and participants.
A reimbursement or payment rate of days, or even hours can be far too long for trial participants. If Jane Doe is participating in a trial that she will have to travel to the city for, she’ll need to pay for parking. If Jane has to wait to receive funds, she has to cover parking herself. What may seem like a small example, illustrates the larger issue for trial participants. Assuming participants have the funds to pay for even small costs incurred for trial participation excludes participants who don’t have the means pay for expenses and wait weeks to receive their money back. Perhaps most patients can cover parking, but when it comes to other larger expenses, immediacy of payment may be what allows a participant to remain in a trial.
Sites tell us that with ClinCard, “Participants don’t need to wait weeks or months for their payment”, “The participants receive their reimbursement the day of visit versus waiting on a check”, and that “It’s quick and easy. Subjects love how quick they get their money”. Patients and sites alike deeply appreciate the immediacy of payment. What would previously take weeks or even months, now is instantaneous, allowing patients to remain in trials they may have otherwise needed to withdraw from due to financial concerns.
With participant convenience and accessibility as a high priority for sites and sponsors, it is important that the participant payment method used be easy to manage for all trial participants. This includes those who may not have a means to being able to access a bank to cash a check that has been given to them. In a conversation with one of our rural site clients, they indicated that in more remote communities, even cashing or depositing a check can prove to be challenging without having transportation, the technology at home, or a bank account to deposit it to. With ClinCard, funds can be used both in store and online, allowing participants to access their funds virtually anywhere, without needing to cash a check first.
Sites say that patients find ClinCard “Easy, and they always know where and how to access their money”. One site reported, “Reloadable cards make it easier for patients to keep track of their money instead of having different cards every time”. Another site indicated that it is “easy to replace cards if someone loses one and the balance just transfers over”. Accessibility needs to apply to every participant; one site let us know that ClinCard increased ease “For people without bank accounts who can’t cash checks easily or without fees”. Participants feel that ClinCard enables quick and easy access to funds, helping them limit time spent on participation in the trial itself.
- Remote Payment Capabilities & 5. COVID-19 Friendly
Pre-COVID, our world was already becoming increasingly virtual, and the pandemic only sped up the inevitable. With virtual payment methods becoming more popular by the day, some participants simply prefer receiving their funds without needing to go into the site or without waiting for it to be delivered by mail, while others find a remote payment option to be a necessity, given current circumstances. Due to COVID-19, some sites had to close their doors to non-essential study visits, meaning many participants were taking part in trial activities from home and never setting foot in the site’s office. Other participants preferred to stay away from the offices to keep their exposure minimal but wanted to remain in the trial. With ClinCard, sites could continue to pay participants while they remained at home. Some sites have said, “I can place payment for a patient even when they are not in the office with me” and “No in-person transactions needed”.
ClinCard has not only proven to be a preferred payment method by sites, but it is also a preferred payment method of clinical trial participants. The ease of use, accessibility, and remote payment capabilities has made trial payments one less thing that participants need to worry about during their time in a trial. In addition to increased participant satisfaction, many sites have also seen an increase in participant retention when using ClinCard, because it is easy to use and eliminates payment challenges that participants may have experienced with other payment methods.