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Stu HeadshotOur guest blogger for this series is Stuart Thiede –  President of DrugDev’s Payment Division.  Stuart brings 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.

Everyone involved in clinical trials openly admits that the success of a trial depends on the engagement and execution of the investigator sites.  Sites are the lifeblood of any successful trial…however, only recently has site satisfaction become a serious priority.  With the growing number of trials today, sites are increasingly becoming selective in which trials they select to join.  This puts the onus squarely back on the sponsor to ensure a satisfied site or risk losing them.

This article is the third in a series of five that will discuss the best kept investigator site payment secrets DrugDev has uncovered throughout its years of payments execution.  My last commentary, Investigator Site Payments: Secrets Revealed – Part 2, discussed how investigator site payments is one of the largest clinical trial expenses and needs to be treated that way.  This post will be centered around the impact of prompt and accurate payments can have on site satisfaction levels.


Imagine trying to run a business and providing services to your clients, but not getting paid for 3, 6, or even 9 months after your work is completed. Then, when payment is finally received, you are not provided with any detail on how the amount was determined.  Forcing you to spend additional time and effort working with your client to get answers to your questions…again adding unnecessary cycles to simply ensure you are accurately paid for your efforts.  It would be incredibly frustrating and difficult to keep that business running, especially when payment is regularly promised yet seldom delivered on time.  This is the exact situation that sites are often faced with – complete the work then wait for compensation.  Only to have payments finally delivered with a complete lack of detail.

It isn’t hard to understand why site satisfaction levels are low and principal investigator turnover is so high. It’s hard to imagine any of us tolerating this scenario and then signing up for more.

Consistently, in site satisfaction surveys, the top frustrations of clinical trial sites are the constant delay in payments, the lack of payment data transparency, and the lack of payment accuracy. These frustrations ultimately lead to lower levels of site satisfaction with a sponsor and once the word is out, it will potentially discourage other sites and investigators from participating in your current or future clinical trials.

The issue is compounded when smaller, niche sites are involved, since the criticality of frequent and accurate payments is even higher.  Cash flow is a constant concern and not knowing when payments will arrive, or for what amount, forces sites to pay the bills out of their own working capital and potentially cripples the sites ability to effectively serve their patients.  As these issues become more evident (or are discussed more frequently and openly), the clinical trial environment is being forced to transform from sponsor focused to site focused.

Sites are now requiring:

  • Accurate and timely payments
  • Transparency of Payment details
  • Electronic invoice submission
  • Visit invoice facilitation (Pro Forma) for sites outside of the U.S.
  • Automated workflow capabilities to accelerate sponsor approval
  • Notification that payments have been executed
  • Robust support capabilities to quickly and efficiently answer their inquiries

Sites are becoming increasingly selective with the sponsors (and CROs) they contract with and the clinical trial technology they use. They are shopping their services to multiple sponsors and engaging only with the organizations that meet minimum selection criteria. Sites want to know when payments are being made, for how much, with the ability to easily reconcile against completed activities.

By eliminating the stress, uncertainly, and doubt surrounding investigator site payments the sites are able to focus on their area of expertise – patient health, with the additional benefit of limiting the high rate of investigator turnover

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.