Guiding Your Research Organization with Business Intelligence

Do you think that a clinical research organization is a business?

That might seem like a trick question, but most clinical research organizations don’t see themselves that way. The main reason a site doesn’t think like a business is a general perception that “research” isn’t a business. Research is a process that sites conduct to come to conclusions about a drug or treatment, and it can be a challenge to incorporate business intelligence into that process. Recent data suggests that that many hard-working clinical research sites aren’t even covering their costs; trials are more complicated, patient recruitment is challenging, and study budgets are under enormous pressure. This can lead to research organizations fighting for financial survival in the industry, derailing studies and research along the way.

If your organization is struggling financially, implementing a business intelligence process will be able to get your organization back on track. Business intelligence (B.I.) is simple; you gather, interpret and act upon the data of your organization. This should be a no-brainer for clinical research organizations since they do the same tasks for the clinical trials they are conducting! B.I. may sound intimidating, but it’s just a gauge to see whether your research organization is meeting, exceeding, or falling short of goals in any aspect of your clinical research. Understanding where your organization falls on that spectrum is why B.I. is such an important aspect of your business. If you know you’re losing money or not enrolling enough patients, your organization can quickly resolve these problems instead of floundering until the research site has to close.  Implementing a BI strategy can significantly reduce losses and avert crises before they can overtake your organization.

According to Clinical Information News, there are two main categories of B.I.: project-level and organization-level. The project level correlates best with a clinical research site, where you are tracking the expectations and goals for specific studies, such as enrollment, finances, and patient retention. At the organization-level, you would be tracking expectations for your company across multiple projects. For example, a CRO wants to know about recruitment performance at their oncology studies or they want to keep track of the profitability for all their trials, that would be considered organizational performance. Project and organization level BI are both important aspects of the clinical research industry that need to be kept in mind for BI to be successful.

So, you’re ready to begin implementing a B.I. strategy at your research organization, that’s great! You’ll need to write down your goals and expectations for each project, as well as for your entire organization. Your focus should only be on quantifiable goals; anything that can’t be tracked accurately shouldn’t be included in your B.I. strategy. Every goal needs to have KPIs or key performance indicators attached. KPIs need to be accurately measured and have actionable goals associated with them for them to be useful to your organization. The best way to be able to track business intelligence would be through a software application that plugs into one or more data sources. It needs information from CTMS, EDC, financial systems and others to be successful.

It may seem like a daunting task to begin working on a B.I. strategy for your research organization, but many research organizations have closed because they didn’t have a business strategy. Starting with a few actionable goals, your research organization can begin B.I. processes that will provide financial stability for your organization.


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