Increasingly complex clinical trials are creating more and more “pressure points” for clinical research coordinators (CRCs) and clinical research associates (CRAs) who fail to find ways to effectively work together, says Amanda Wright, BS, vice president of partnership development for Javara Research.
Wright advises CRCs at study sites and the CRAs who come from study sponsors to monitor those sites to take some time at the outset of a study and “interview” each other about respective expectations, desired outcomes, and communication preferences. “Find out about the big drivers for each,” she says. “You’ll thrive together if you understand each other’s roles.”
For example, no two sites are exactly the same. That’s especially true when comparing academic medical centers (AMCs) and private sites, Wright notes. At core, “private sites are more about revenue streams,” she says.
Working with a private site requires a certain nimbleness, where much of the focus is on how many patients you can enroll quickly, Wright says. AMCs, on the other hand, have different priorities in the mix. For example, a principal investigator at an AMC may feel under pressure to produce publishable results from a clinical trial in order to bolster his or her chances at gaining tenure at the institution.
Whatever the setting, it’s worth it for CRCs and CRAs to set aside ample time to get to know each other better, Wright stresses. Ideally, it should happen before study start up. “That’s a big challenge—to understand how the other [person] works to set them up” well for collaboration, Wright says. Both sides need clarity on issues like point people and how much of the trial is centralized, she says.
If you get off on the wrong foot at the beginning, it’s that much harder to recover down the line, Wright notes. “Wouldn’t you rather learn how to fix or prevent problems, rather than just being angry and frustrated all the time?” she asks.
Wright has seen firsthand the benefits of good two-way communication between CRCs and CRAs. She’s also participating in a leadership role at ACRP’s All-Star Challenge, a competition testing a team’s ability to work together and collaboratively solve problems while exemplifying operational efficiency, teamwork, effectiveness, cost constraint, and communication. Entries for the next All-Star Challenge event at the ACRP 2020 gathering in Seattle in early May are being accepted until February 16.
Author: Michael Causey