Top 5 Takeaways from ACRP from a Site Enablement Perspective

Last week, over the course of three days, hundreds of clinical research professionals gathered in Dallas, Texas, for the 2023 Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) Conference. 

There were several tracks, or “journey” options, that attendees could take. One of these journeys was designed to help attendees strategize and optimize technology for studies moving into the future. 

There’s a history of sites, sponsors and CROs operating in silos. It’s as if they are each individual blocks on a quilt and we haven’t quite figured how to sew them together for lasting resilience. With this in mind, the following conference highlights are key takeaways through the lens of site enablement.

1. Buzz words don’t fix disconnection

There are a lot of buzz words floating around the clinical research industry, especially on the technology front: connection, streamline, automated – just to name a few. While these words aid in explaining what a technology solution can help sites and sponsors accomplish, a need for constructive conversations remains. 

By opening up dialogue between sites, sponsors, CROs, and technology providers, a deeper understanding of challenges and needs come to life and create the foundation for better long-term solutions. 

2. It’s time to connect the systems that work for you

Here’s the thing, technology solutions don’t always make life easier. A single technology tool can solve someone’s problem, but isn’t likely to solve everyone’s problem. Instead of focusing on finding or creating a solution that does it all, we should be both enabling and encouraging sites and sponsors to own their technology and choose what works best for them. 

Forced system adoption needs to go. Sites should be able to bring their own systems into the totality of their research, not on a trial by trial basis. And because sites have varying needs, there’s an even greater need to bring all of these systems together for a unified user experience. This not only allows, but enables, system connection for both sites and sponsors, and is what’s going to aid in advancing cures.

3. Site-first technology, the key to DCTs

The ACRP conference made it clear that there are still a lot of questions and concerns around decentralized trials (DCTs). The overall feeling is that there is a lack of direction, standardization, and trust in the new (or lack thereof) methods and processes. 

However, we can be confident that site enablement technology will greatly aid in advancements with DCTs. 

We’ve seen a shift in the industry as sites influence needs within research. Site-first technology not only empowers sites in the traditional sense, but is the key to successful DCTs by reducing barriers to enrollment, increasing diversity, improving operational efficiency, and patient engagement and retention.

4. Investment in sites provides higher ROI for sponsors

Site staff are limited, overwhelmed, and feeling the technology burden. Sites should speak up and tell their sponsors what’s most valuable for them, as well as how that value is shared. 

Sponsors care about participant recruitment and study speed. An investment in site enablement technology supports connected systems that increase speed and capacity, create standardization, and save time and money with the ability to provide remote monitoring. Clearly articulating the ROI on site enablement technology aids in shifting cost burden to sponsors.

5. Let your technology work for you

Many sites function without a clear technology strategy, which results in risks such as disconnection, inefficiencies, and duplication. The lack of open APIs is

When discerning a technology partner, it’s important to ask:

  • How much faster will this make my site? 
  • Is it secure and compliant?
  • Does it simplify my workflows?
  • How does it fit into my tech stack?
  • What are the API capabilities?

You should be confident that your technology can keep up and scale with your needs over time. Make sure to have conversations around long-term goals with your potential tech vendor to ensure your set-up for success and receive good ROI. 

These takeaways demonstrate how critical it is for site enablement technology to be woven into the quilt of clinical research. Utilizing connected technology reduces administrative burden, increases trial capacity, and creates an ecosystem of streamlined workflows that aids in the advancement of cures.