Key CTMS Capabilities to Improve Financial Management
In clinical research, utilizing your clinical trial management system (CTMS) to its fullest potential can allow for more streamlined financial management, visit management, compliance, patient recruitment, and more. But when looking for the right CTMS system or learning more about your organization’s current platform, what should you look for?
While it’s important to note not all CTMS are the same, understanding your organization’s operations, including its inefficiencies, can help you understand how to get the most from your system. This blog outlines what you should look for in a CTMS to maximize your organization’s return on investment (ROI).
Especially for large academic medical centers, cancer centers, and health systems, a key capability to streamline financial workflows and billing compliance is integration with your electronic medical record (EMR) system. For example, Advarra’s OnCore CTMS and Clinical Conductor CTMS are able to send complex study billing definitions to an EMR system through the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise’s (IHE) clinical research process content (CRPC) profile. This means all applicable team members involved in the research and/or billing process can leverage the same billing designations. If a patient is also a participant enrolled in a study, this status is visible to the organization’s billing office, ensuring charges are routed properly, and potential billing issues are avoided.
Negotiate Contracts and Maintain Budgets
Regardless of the size of your site or your research volume, negotiating is necessary to ensure your team is receiving the maximum amount of money possible to conduct a study. However, in order to know how much money you should ask for, you need to know what your budgets currently look like and how your organization tracks expenses. If staff are just tracking numbers in spreadsheets, there’s still room for error.
A CTMS should help set up a comprehensive budget for each protocol. To get the most out of a budgeting tool, a CTMS can allow you to:
- Gain visibility into financial needs per participant and per procedure
- Maintain consistent costs for each procedure and protocol
- Calculate the organization’s overhead
- Help justify costs to the sponsor
For trials currently conducted, a CTMS enables you to track invoices and payments received from sponsors, helping to maintain a positive cash flow. Furthermore, these tools can allow you to see current transactions and identify which payments are outstanding.
Ensure Timely Payments to Participants and Vendors
As there are many moving parts in any given study, properly paying participants is no exception. It’s vital for staff to stay on top of it and promptly record visits so they can receive payment. If a visit isn’t recorded immediately, staff run the risk of delaying payment or forgetting to record it altogether. Additionally, vendors expect to be paid on time. Missing or delaying payments to them can potentially hinder any relationships built over time – or worse, jeopardize future opportunities.
As a central location for study-related information, a CTMS can make it easy to connect information between visits and financials. If a CTMS can automatically connect participant visits to financials, it greatly reduces the chance for errors to occur and further streamlines your workflows. When looking for an enterprise CTMS, understand it should enable you to:
- Provide visit tracking to ensure participants receive fast, accurate reimbursements
- Easily pay vendors
- View payment statuses at a glance
- Retrieve payment history quickly
Understand Time Spent on Protocols
In order to improve site productivity, you must understand the current protocol’s resource requirements and identify any potential inefficiencies. Compiling workload data is especially important in understanding time requirements in a protocol. Often tedious, it’s usually pushed to the side in order for staff to focus on more study-related tasks. However, if the time per task isn’t properly monitored, you may come up short when budgeting for time spent on a protocol. A CTMS’s effort tracking feature replaces spreadsheets and calculators, giving researchers a centralized location to store information critical to a study. Staff can benefit from an automated effort tracking system by:
- Gaining insight into time spent on protocol tasks
- Identifying inefficiencies
- Justifying costs
Using a CTMS to its’ fullest potential allows you to improve financial workflows by centralizing information, automating communications, and ensure documentation is current. Over time, with the help of a CTMS, sites will have the ability to maximize their ROI, take on more protocols, and enhance their relationships with participants and vendors.