Trial Billing Issues Damage Important Business Relationships

Henry Galio, Senior Director for Vault CTMS, Veeva Systems

Next time you are stuck on a commuter train, think about how the conductor handles the delay. Does he or she get on the speaker immediately to tell you what’s happening or even to admit they are still working to decipher the problem? Or do you sit stewing as the conductor leaves you in a frustrating and open-ended silence before the train suddenly jerks forward with no explanation?

Call it one of the paradoxes of human nature, but a 10-minute delay often feels more manageable and somehow shorter if you are advised of the situation as soon as possible, while a five-minute delay can feel like an eternity if you’re left in the dark.

There’s a lesson there for both sides in the billing equation between clinical trial sponsors and sites, says Henry Galio, senior director for Vault CTMS at Veeva and a veteran of Upjohn, Roche, Oracle, and IBM.

Technology and transparency are valuable tools for sites and sponsors to keep the billing side of operations running as smoothly as possible, Galio advises. Good tools and good communication working hand in hand can speed trial starts and reduce staff turnover, both of which should please sponsors and might contribute to a site environment where billing chores are handled in as expeditious manner as possible.

Obviously, there are limits to both technology and communication on their own, Galio allows. “The nicest person in the world telling you they don’t know when you are getting paid for a service you’ve spent money on isn’t going to cut it after a while,” he says.

However, communication and transparency, especially during the study contract negotiations phase, can go a long way toward removing nasty surprises and frustrations from the working relationship.  For example, a site may somehow expect payment in Net30, when it’s the policy (or technology limitation) of the sponsor to pay Net45. Getting those kinds of discrepancies into the open air is key at the very outset, Galio says.

Technology can enable good business procedures and minimize the administrative challenges that clinical sites/investigators deal with, especially around payment processing delays that decrease site satisfaction and discourage them from participating in further clinical trials.

Author: Michael Causey