The Unintended Impact of March Madness on Clinical Trials

March 20 2024  

Understanding the potential impacts of various cultural phenomena on your patient engagement program is essential to ensuring the smooth execution of your clinical trials. This is particularly true when it comes to anticipating realistic costs and availability related to travel and logistics. 

Factors to Consider

Major events like March Madness and the Olympics attract attention worldwide, often prompting millions of people to travel to the respective cities where the events are taking place. One aspect that may not be considered is the impact events like these can have on clinical trials. With targeted regions experiencing heightened travel demand, prices of flights and hotels skyrocket and accommodations are extremely limited. If a clinical trial is taking place at a research site located near a major event, this can significantly impact a participant’s ability to get to the site and secure lodgings.

Even localized events such as festivals, concerts and sporting events can cause travel disruption, requiring pre-planning. In one scenario, a clinical trial being conducted at a major academic medical center crossed timelines with a significant college basketball game that was taking place at the school. This resulted in all hotel rooms in proximity being sold out; prior to the sell-out, hotel rooms were triple the average price. This had a considerable impact on the trial and the ability for its participants to find the appropriate accommodations, let alone within the established budget.

Another factor to consider relating to pricing and availability is the implications of annual holidays, particularly in major cities such as New York City. For instance, during the Christmas season, hotel pricing in Manhattan can increase drastically from mid-December to mid-February. Being aware of and planning around these scenarios can help not only in understanding the potential expenses associated with travel but enabling your organization to lock in accommodations earlier and at a lower rate. Taking proactive steps can ultimately assist in overcoming any potential challenges that may arise.

“I have seen how major events or seasonal activities, such as ski season at Lake Tahoe or rodeo season in Wyoming, can cause travel disruptions. Our travel providers will communicate directly with the sites they are working with in those locations, and any difficulties they encounter will be shared with us so that we can inform the sponsors as needed. This way, the patient’s participation won’t be impacted.” – Michael Woodard, Senior Manager of Operations and Support.

Driving Trial Success through Effective Travel Planning and Coordination

Planning and coordinating travel arrangements for clinical trial participants can seem like a challenging and time-consuming task. But to ensure the successful and timely completion of your trial, it is essential to plan ahead and budget accordingly. As noted in our examples, failure to do so may negatively impact the participant’s experience and compromise the outcome of the trial.

By offering prepaid and personalized travel services that arrange car rides, air or rail travel, accommodations such as hotels and specialty services such as wheelchair accessible vans, personal travel coordinators and more, you can avoid logistical barriers and provide peace of mind to both participants and sites.

Working with a trusted travel management partner like Greenphire/Clincierge can ensure you have flexible and reliable local and long-distance travel solutions for your trials, even during major pop culture events. Our comprehensive travel management solution is designed explicitly to deliver a seamless experience for your participants and drive the success of your clinical trial, whether it’s during March Madness, the Olympics, or the busy holiday season. With personalized advance travel planning, itinerary management, and expense tracking, we can guarantee that participants arrive at their destination safely and on time while also keeping costs under control.

Don’t let travel woes put your clinical trials on hold. With Greenphire/Clincierge, you can make patient participation a breeze. Discover how we can simplify your trials today!


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