Why Does The Clinical Research Industry Operate As If We Are In The 1990's?


First of all, I know that there are a lot of tech companies in this industry; I am not talking about the recent influx of innovative and hopefully game-changing technologies that have hit the scene in recent years and paved the way for risk based monitoring, remote monitoring, and better overall data analytics being captured on sites and patient safety.  Those things are all good, as they should be, because they lead towards more efficient (less costly) studies and offer an incentive amongst research sites to continuously improve their processes if they should want to be offered future trials.  

What I am referring to is the lack of information available to individuals looking to learn more about the clinical research industry, patients or other hopeful research professionals.  Let's focus first (and briefly) on patient recruitment.  I wrote an article recently that seemed to have resonated with some of my colleagues on why we should start advertising our studies to potential patients like it's 2017 and not 1997.  It seems like we are starting to see some progress on the patient recruitment front, albeit at a sluggish pace.

When it comes to getting more people interested in clinical research as a career or entrepreneurial venture however, the industry is better protected than Dak Prescott throwing behind his offensive line last year.  It is my belief that the reason for this is because the current status quo does not want newcomers entering the field and disrupting the way "business has always been done".  There are many stakeholders whom are profiting handsomely from the current status quo, some deservedly so and others solely based on who they are buddies with.  This is true for every industry, however ours is one of perhaps only a handful of industries that are so obscure that outsiders would never even consider the opportunities available. The market is ultimately the deciding force in who the winners and losers are so I am not too concerned with this.  Newcomers who really want to figure out how to land a job in this industry, or start a business will eventually figure it out even if there are very few resources online guiding them in the right direction.  Try googling any terms related to starting a research site or landing a job in this industry.  Chances are that you are either going to find a bunch of my stuff (good for me as I have built several business around this content) or industry resources that you will have to pay for.  Don't even get me started on the incredibly costly conferences which are the industry standard business development strategy in this industry!!! (Listen to my podcast rant on this here).   

What I am concerned about is the lack of physicians that are participating in clinical trials.  Because of the overall secrecy and guardedness of the industry, we are not getting research naive physicians educated about our fantastic industry.  This might be great for current site owners and other physicians who have figured out how to successfully operate their own research clinics and develop additional revenue streams for themselves (as I have as well), but it is ultimately a disservice to all of the potential study participants that will never be enrolled in trials because their physicians don't understand the benefits of trial participation.  (See my "Why Clinical Research Needs More Doctors").  The industry should look for ways to get this accomplished, or leave a fantastic opportunity for a startup to accomplish this task and disrupt the industry as startups typically end up doing in all industries.  It's only a matter of time.  (My CRO's business model is built on this very hypothesis.) 

We have essentially built a moat around our industry which may protect everyone inside for the time being, but it is ultimately an environment which would foster collusion rather than innovation, an open society vs a closed, walled-off one.  We have all of the necessary tools that the internet has provided in 2017 to build bridges across the moats and attract inquisitive newcomers to enter.  There certainly is an arbitrage opportunity here for those who do. 

Here is a video I did specifically for physicians explaining the benefits of becoming clinical trial Investigators.


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