First-of-its-kind Survey Shows Trials can Increase Revenue, Community Prestige and Physician Recruitment
Deerfield, IL – Although the number of clinical trials has grown over the past two decades, community hospitals generally haven’t capitalized on clinical trial programs to help them generate revenues, enhance community prestige or recruit and retain physicians, according to a survey of clinical research professionals and hospital executives.
The first-of-its-kind survey of 183 healthcare industry professionals reveals that while clinical research programs are perceived to have a positive impact on their organizations, community hospitals often lack the resources, structure or commitment to succeed in the long run.
The 2013 Community Hospital Survey, commissioned by GuideStar Clinical Trials Management, was developed in collaboration with CenterWatch, a publishing and market intelligence company focusing on the clinical trials industry.
“Our results show that community hospitals have largely remained on the sidelines when it comes to clinical trials,” said Kristin P. Hutchins, president and CEO of GuideStar, which builds, manages and supports clinical research programs in community healthcare settings. “We wanted to learn why these hospitals have been slow or unable to participate in this growth opportunity.”
Results show that clinical research programs are perceived to have a positive impact on community hospitals in numerous ways, including the contribution to medical science (92 percent of respondents), the opportunity to provide cutting-edge therapies to the community (86 percent), and the enhancement of a hospital’s image (73 percent). Also cited was physician satisfaction (63 percent) and giving hospitals a competitive advantage (49 percent).
Hospital executives were asked to rate the most important attributes of a clinical research program and the impact of those attributes on their hospitals. The most important, cited by 57 percent of executives, was “overall impact on hospital service quality,” with 46 percent of executives saying this attribute had a strong positive impact on their hospitals.
Challenges to success
Despite the positive perceptions and attributes of clinical trials, barriers to establishing research exist in some community hospitals, according to the survey. These include lack of resources (63 percent), lack of internal clinical research program awareness (61 percent), insufficient staffing (59 percent) and lack of financial support (41 percent).
The survey, conducted earlier this year, provided greater insight into the impact and perceptions hospital leaders have about clinical research in community hospitals.
The survey revealed additional insights. Here are some:
- Hospital executives say clinical research programs generally are aligned with a hospital’s overall mission which, for most community hospitals, involves providing excellent care to patients close to home. By conducting clinical trials, hospitals are can bring their patients innovative therapy options. Clinical research programs also typically align with a hospital’s overall emphasis on quality of care.
- Community hospitals say clinical research strongly affects both overall physician satisfaction and physician recruitment. The ability to offer patients access to leading-edge medicines and be involved in offering therapeutic options beyond standard patient care are important factors in both attracting and retaining motivated, high-quality physicians.
- Nearly 50 percent of respondents acknowledged they didn’t have a grasp on how their research was performing financially. Whether they don’t have the expertise to fully examine and manage clinical research finances or they haven’t considered it as an area of potential revenue generation was not clear. What is clear, though, is that hospitals haven’t gained a full understanding of research finances.
- The survey also uncovered some additional challenges, including a general lack of knowledge about and understanding of the conduct of clinical research, particularly the administrative and data collection burden; the lack of a physician “champion” motivated and truly interested in conducting research; the lack of skilled clinical research coordinators; the lack of staff members who know how to interact with an IRB; and the lack of a research administrative structure, including staff skilled at negotiating budgets and managing contracts.
“Fortunately, community hospitals across the nation appear poised to become more actively involved in research, which could trigger increased activity for the clinical trials industry,” said Ken Getz is founder of CenterWatch, a privately owned publishing and information services provider of clinical trials information for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, research organizations, investigative sites, academic research and health centers and other organizations. “With broader efforts to educate hospitals and raise awareness among the community, along with greater investment in building the infrastructure to support trial activity, community hospitals could nurture thriving clinical programs.”
So how does the hospital C-suite get past some of the challenges uncovered by the survey? There are several keys to success when starting or enhancing a clinical research program:
- Know who you are. While most health care executives interviewed in our survey strongly advocate expanding clinical research in community hospitals, they caution that this approach is only for those hospitals of a certain size that are able to support the infrastructure required and that have the patient volume sufficient to satisfy enrollment needs.
- Make clinical research a primary focus. Hospital executives recommend making a cultural shift toward research support and awareness. Whether tackling research independently or partnering with an academic organization, the shift in culture will allow a research program to grow and thrive.
- Find a physician champion. Having a medical leader interested in research and willing to reach out to medical liaisons and study sponsors is one key to success. However, physicians can only be interested if an infrastructure exists to support the trial and they understand the opportunities. The ability to offer patients access to leading-edge medicines, publish their research results and occasionally be involved in something other than standard patient care all are important factors in both attracting and retaining motivated, high-quality physicians.
- Do it right. Key elements for building a successful, profitable clinical research program include a strong understanding of infrastructure requirements and their associated expenses; the correct balance of studies—industry-funded versus cooperative group studies—aggressive contract and budget negotiation; a principal Investigator or physician champion able to garner support from hospital administration; and the patient population necessary to ensure successful study enrollment.
Survey results and methodology are available athttp://www.guidestarclinical.com/go/ch-survey-results/?lp-variation-id=0.
About GuideStar® Clinical Trials Management
GuideStar Clinical Trials Management builds, manages and supports clinical research programs in community healthcare settings, increasing revenue and enhancing reputation for hospitals around the nation. For more information, please visit www.guidestarclinical.com.