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Takeaways From the 2021 SCRS Site Solutions Summit

After reflecting on this past weekend at the SCRS Site Solutions Summit, I am energized and inspired. I had the honor of representing Advarra in our sponsorship of the Eagle Award Gala, which is an evening dedicated to celebrating great innovation, adaptation, and most importantly, collaboration. It was not only a lot of fun, it was inspiring to remember the great progress we have made in the industry in the last year and the hope we have for promising changes to come.

The alignment between what the SCRS community and Advarra is all about could not be clearer. Advarra is passionate about truly supporting sites across all of their studies and the work that research sites do, as we’ve served sites through site-centric technology now for the last 20 plus years. We’ve done this through our clinical trial management system (CTMS), eRegulatory management (eReg), eConsent, eSource, or through institutional review board (IRB) or good clinical practice (GCP) and inspection readiness engagements.

We recognize how hard sites work, the challenges they overcome, and the passion they have for the participants they serve. We also work with sponsors and contract research organizations (CROs) as an IRB and through technology enabling sites and participants, whether it’s site training, education, and engagement, or protocol compliance. We recognize the impact they truly want to make and the position they are in to do so. Given this experience across stakeholders, we have an interesting vantage point on the industry, and two themes are clear.

Laura Hilty presents the Eagle Award at the 2021 SCRS Global Site Solutions Summit.

First, to be patient-centric, you have to be site-centric. This statement actually brought applause from those at the conference because it’s at the heart of what a site does. Sites are the trust fabric that a participant relies on and supporting sites also have a direct impact on participants. During the Global Impact Partner meeting at the conference, many sites brought this up as a problem worth solving, indicating sponsor-imposed technology is literally taking away from their participant’s experience, which negatively impacts enrollment. This is an important and promising point, as many sponsors and CROs are actively looking for ways to be more patient-centric.

The second theme is site to sponsor/CRO interactions are critical to a successful study, and they are hard. The challenges are multi-faceted and as supported from the Site Landscape Survey results presented by SCRS, the site to sponsor/CRO interactions as a whole are actually getting worse, despite the press of site-centricity or “site portals” dedicated to help this. The survey did show a small percentage of sites indicating an improvement, so there are some promising pockets of positive momentum. I imagine those have a lot to do with the Eagle Award finalists and discussions through the organizations engaged in cross-stakeholder discussions SCRS enables.

At Advarra, we are making it our mission to enable better collaboration between sites and sponsors/CROs. We will lay the groundwork through site-centric technology integrated with sponsor technology to reduce site burden. But for collaboration and site-centricity to truly happen, it takes the sponsors and CROs who are willing to support sites and listen to what’s going on in the trenches to make better collaboration possible.

That’s the spirit of the Eagle Award that we are so proud to support. This is a huge feather in the cap to all Eagle Award finalists, and the winners PPD and Pfizer in particular. The work is not done, but these organizations represent the pioneers on the journey toward better collaboration in clinical trials and therefore, better treatment options for participants.

Thank you to these sponsors and CROs for recognizing the importance of sites and reducing the burden on them. Thank you to the sites for your tireless hard work, sometimes altruistic grit, and your highest dedication to serving current and future patients. We are excited to collaborate with you on this journey as we strive for a whole new level of efficiency and output as an industry. May we as an industry approach this next year with innovation, adaptation, and collaboration.

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