Getting Investigators Onboard: Lab Preferences Make a Difference in Trial Participation

Clinical trials are becoming increasingly complex and competitive, so attracting the best investigator sites to participate in a trial is a crucial step in meeting patient enrollment targets.

Delaying approval by even one day can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, Covance Labs Clinical Trial Participationdepending on the drug. This means that timely trial implementation, including patient enrollment, may add significant value.

Meeting patient enrollment milestones in cooperation with investigators has traditionally been viewed as the responsibility of the contract research organization (CRO). Now, important new data show that a sponsor’s choice of a central lab impacts the willingness of investigators to work with a sponsor on clinical trials.

Investigators have clear preferences when it comes to central labs, according to results from a September 2016 study conducted by the Life Science Strategy Group (LSSG).* Fully 91 percent of investigators said they are more satisfied and willing to work with a sponsor on future trials when the sponsor has selected their preferred central laboratory from past clinical trials.

What’s particularly interesting is that these preferences seem likely to influence overall satisfaction, ongoing relationships with the sponsor and even their ability to do their jobs effectively. This connection, first reported in 2011, is often overlooked.

What Matters to Investigators

Investigators indicated that they participate in clinical trials to access new medicine and therapies for patients and because of intellectual curiosity. However, when weighing the decision to join a trial, they also consider aspects of trials that impact their satisfaction such as time commitment, budget and proper training.

So, how can sponsors increase investigator satisfaction?

In the survey, 98 percent of investigators stated the central laboratory selected by the sponsor impacts their personal and staffs’ success, day-to-day activities and willingness to work with a particular sponsor on future studies.

If the investigator is working with a laboratory that he or she prefers – one that’s easy to do business with – satisfaction increases. Investigator satisfaction is very high when the sponsor has selected the investigator’s most preferred central laboratory; 70 percent are very satisfied. When the investigator’s least preferred lab is selected, satisfaction drops significantly.

In fact, 41 percent of investigators estimate that they save at least a few hours per week when they work with their most preferred lab. This becomes important when considering what motivates investigators to participate in trials.

Components of Satisfaction

Investigators tend to value a specific handful of services, which may tip the balance on how satisfied they are with their experience during a trial. In the survey, they shared that they generally prefer the lab that provides:

  • User-friendly kits and easy reorder instructions
  • Strong, reliable customer service for the investigator
  • Timely reporting; quick turnaround

Covance Central Laboratory Services scored highest in the study as the most preferred central lab more than three times as often as the nearest competitor. Covance has earned the highest score in this category each time the report has been published since its inception in 2011.

Clinical Trial Patient Recruitment

Our dedication to precision delivery and meeting client needs has driven us to make investments that improve clinical trial processes. We produce kits in-house using operations that achieve accuracy of 99.993 percent. We also added more automation and innovative staffing solutions in 2015-16 to satisfy increasing kit demand. In 2016 we delivered first supplies on time at a rate of 99.5 percent, which means investigators may have better success at meeting required enrollment timelines.

If investigators have questions, a multilingual Global Investigator Services team with advanced telephony systems is available 24/7 for support. They handle everything from patient safety information and panic and alert values to patient demographic verification and specimen handling issues.

We know how important it is to sponsors to provide medications to patients more quickly. We look for opportunities at each step along the way where time can be saved, whether it’s through superior kit logistics or investigator service – components that ultimately set the foundation for investigators having a satisfying experience.


*In 2016, LSSG, an independent organization, surveyed 251 clinical trial investigators actively participating in pharmaceutical industry-sponsored clinical trials around the world.