What Is Site Enablement?

Site Enablement refers to any technology that prioritizes the needs of clinical research sites. Site Enablement Platforms connect sites, sponsors, and CROs to enable continuous collaboration throughout the clinical trial process. 

The rise of Site Enablement marks a major shift in the clinical trial industry. In the past, sponsors often expected sites to manage their documents in paper binders or online drives, then re-upload those documents to sponsor portals. 

Using sponsor portals created repetitive, time-consuming work for sites and slowed down clinical trials, costing sponsors weeks of time and thousands of dollars. Site Enablement Platforms help sites work more efficiently and instantly share documents and data with sponsors. 

Keep reading to learn more about Site Enablement technology and how it could help your team.

What Features Should Site Enablement Technology Have?

Site Enablement Platforms could include:

But to be true Site Enablement Platforms, these solutions must match site workflows and help them complete their daily work more quickly.

So how can sponsors find technology with features sites will want to use? Sponsors and CROs can start by talking to research site staff about their needs and what platforms they already have. 

If sites already use Site Enablement technology, they may ask sponsors to link to it so they can share their documents from a system they’re comfortable with. 78% of sites have an eISF, and the same percentage have a study start-up platform. 72% have eConsent, and 72% have eSource. 

If sites are missing a Site Enablement Platform, they’ll want one that: 

  1. Matches their workflows
  2. Integrates with the platforms they do have

If you’d like to learn more about what sites look for in their technology and how sponsors are responding, check out our 2023 State of the Industry survey.

The Importance of Site Workflows

So what does it mean to match site workflows? 

When asked about the number-one problem they wanted to solve with technology, the majority of research sites chose “automating repetitive tasks. Sponsors must look for technology that fulfills sites’ desires to eliminate redundant data entry and the lengthy process of copying, printing, and faxing documents. 

Sites’ second priority is “enabling remote monitoring and document access for sponsors.” This is why Site Enablement Platforms should give access to both sites and sponsors–they need the ability to create, edit and sign documents, input data, and instantly exchange documents and data with each other.

So to match site workflows, Site Enablement platforms must:

  • Automate repetitive tasks
  • Enable remote monitoring and document access for sponsors and CROs
  • Help sites manage all clinical trial operations in a single platform
  • Enable remote source data verification
  • Increase sites’ likelihood of getting selected for trials

The Importance of Integrations

Research sites also want their technology to integrate. 42% of sites log into more than 6 platforms for an average study, and 40% say a lack of integrations prevents them from adopting new technology. 

Almost every research site has at least one technology platform, even if it’s not a Site Enablement Platform: a Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS), Electronic Medical Record (EMR), or patient payment system, for example. 

Integrating new technology platforms with sites’ existing ones ensures sites don’t have to enter duplicate data into multiple systems. Sponsors, CROs, and sites need to look for software vendors who are willing to build these integrations.

How Site Enablement Tech Helps Research Sites and Sponsors

Site Enablement technology benefits research sites and sponsors in three major ways:

  • Increasing the capacity of overworked sites
  • Helping sponsors become “Sponsors of Choice” and win sites for their studies
  • Accelerating clinical trials to bring cures to patients 

As sites’ workloads increase, providing intuitive Site Enablement software becomes more important than it ever has been.

Increasing the Capacity of Overworked Sites

The resignation rate for healthcare workers grew throughout 2022, leaving many clinical research sites understaffed. At the same time, the number of trials increased, and patient enrollment rates declined. 

All of these trends led to a perfect storm for sites: limited numbers of site staff suddenly had to run record numbers of trials, while also searching for patients who met strict precision medicine requirements. 

To prevent studies from being slowed down or backlogged, the clinical trial industry has to find ways to increase site capacity. Site Enablement Platforms can help by automating repetitive tasks and document management, so clinical trial staff can focus on essential study activities and patient recruitment.

Turning Sponsors Into Sponsors of Choice

Because research sites have such limited capacity, sponsors must compete to convince sites to tackle their studies. In 2019, only 14% of sponsors worried about whether sites saw them as a “Sponsor of Choice”–a top sponsor or CRO that research sites are eager to work with. In 2023, 65% of sponsors want to be Sponsors of Choice. 

But how can sponsors win sites over? When asked, sites said their number-one technology ask for sponsors was, “(Be) accepting of site-owned software such as the eISF.” 

Sponsors must ask sites what platforms they already have–and once they know, they must offer Site Enablement Platforms that integrate with those existing platforms. Sites will accept studies from sponsors that understand their workflows and provide technology to accelerate their studies.

Accelerating Clinical Trials

The more time research sites spend on study start-up, study close-out, and document and data management, the longer patients have to wait for new treatments. 

Safety and efficacy testing are essential and can’t be skipped. But copying, printing and faxing paperwork, re-entering data multiple times, and emailing back and forth with sponsors to clarify minor questions wastes time that critically ill patients don’t have. 

A third-party study by Marketcap Consulting found that Site Enablement Platforms, like Florence, can accelerate study start-up by four weeks and study close-out by two weeks at every site. For a 50-site study, this six-week acceleration reduces cash burn by an average of one million dollars.

Sponsors will welcome the cost savings better clinical trial site management software can bring. But the most important benefits are the time savings that ensure treatments reach patients faster.

The Power of Site Enablement Technology

For too long, the clinical research industry relied on sponsors telling sites what technology to use, whether that technology matched their workflows or not. This process didn’t work for sites–who struggled to keep up with multiple, unintegrated systems and repetitive data entry–or sponsors, who were frustrated by slow trials and lack of site adoption. 

Site Enablement Technology, by contrast, puts sites’ needs and workflows first by offering automation of site tasks, document and data management, and integrations. With these features, Site Enablement Platforms can increase the capacity of overworked sites, build strong relationships between sites and sponsors, and accelerate trials–bringing treatments to patients faster. 

To learn more about Site Enablement, check out our article on why Site Enablement, integrations, and eISFs will be major trends in the future of clinical research.