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Stu HeadshotOur guest blogger for this series is Stuart Thiede –  President of DrugDev’s Payment Division.  Stuart has over 35 years of experience working for companies that bring technology solutions to their clients including over 7 years of site payments expertise. He is responsible for leading DrugDev’s highly skilled and experienced professionals who deliver investigator grant payment services to Clinical Trial Sponsors and CROs.

Investigator site payments are a critical component of any successful clinical trial.  In fact, site payments make up a huge proportion of overall trial costs.  According to an article posted in Clinical Leader, “Investigator payments contribute to approximately 48 to 50 percent of the total per trial costs.” Those numbers are completely staggering considering that site payments are often an afterthought in the clinical trial process…that is until sites start to inquire.

This article is the second in a series of five that will discuss the investigator site payment secrets that DrugDev has uncovered over its multiple years of payment execution.  My first publication in this series, Investigator Site Payments: Secrets Revealed – Part 1 was focused on the changing global payments environment. Today’s topic focuses on the importance of establishing comprehensive site payment procedures as early in the process as possible.


payments-direct-mail-postcard-front-v4With site payments as a top-3 expense for most clinical trials, organizations MUST proactively establish processes in order to promptly and accurately execute payments.  Whether payments are handled internally or outsourced to a third party, the process needs to be clearly defined and communicated throughout your organization.

Most organizations fail to consider the importance of implementing a robust investigator site payment process despite the fact that investigator site payments are one of the largest expenses associated with any clinical trial.  Ensuring timely and accurate site payments typically is not at the top of the list of activities prior to and during study startup.  Historically, priorities have focused on activation activities to help ensure that a trial starts smoothly including patient recruitment, the creation of appropriate contract terms, the establishment of site budgets, and the activation of clinical trial sites.

Site payments only become a priority when sites begin to escalate payment delays, realize the lack of transaction transparency, or experience general confusion on how payments have been determined.  At this point, it’s often too late to adequately address the site payment process and the study will typically incur much lower levels of site satisfaction (we will be touching on site satisfaction in a future post).  Oftentimes, payment accuracy issues, most notably overpayments, are not uncovered until the study closeout leaving the sponsor in the awkward position of trying to recover overpayments long after the original error occurred.

I’m not stating that site payments are any more or less important than the items above, just that they are worthy of equal consideration.  This lack of careful consideration, more often than not, will have a significant impact on the success of your trial(s), either financially or by impacting site satisfaction. I’ve simply witnessed too many organizations where site payments weren’t addressed until after multiple red flags were raised…and at that point it is too late, sites are already upset.

It is more difficult (sometimes impossible) to resolve issues after they have occurred as opposed to simply implementing the correct process from the beginning.  By implementing the appropriate site payment procedures early in the trial, organizations can help ensure that the entire clinical trial goes off as smoothly as possible…not just the startup.

For help implementing payment processes or to obtain a free, no-obligation payments assessment for your organization, visit:

If you would like more details on this topic or to learn more about DrugDev, please contact us to start a discussion.