Conducting clinical trials could be very challenging nowadays. Planning, organising, defining objectives, employing the right personnel, dealing with contemporary digital methodologies and more. And although technologies are said to facilitate every research process, they change and as they change researchers need to get used to what comes next in the technological world in order to keep everything operating the way they want. But it isn’t just technology. Enough trial participants are hard to find, unexpected costs can easily increase, protocols are becoming more complicated, requirements are getting more serious, and documentation piles up even though there are electronic ways which ease the process. Sometimes the personnel isn’t familiar with the necessary compliance areas and rules which additionally complicates the whole process. Fortunately there are programs like investigator meetings which have the primary goal to shed light on what and how needs to be done. Such meetings, then, focus on discussions regarding regulatory issues, requirements, protocols, enrolment criteria and safety issues.
What are the benefits of investigator meetings?
A good way to start with is to point out that investigator meetings have a critical role in clinical trials. It has been widely accepted that they are at the very heart of research because of their agenda. Initially, such meetings ensure maximum clarification regarding protocols, quality of data, regulations, correct documentation practices and so on. In other words, investigator face-to-face conferences of this type help contract research organisations (CROs) and/or sponsors of clinical trials understand legislations, formal clinical study guidelines and recommendations. Just think about the voluminous information which the personnel involved is expected to understand about protocols – from inclusion/exclusion criteria, through adverse event reporting, to recruitment tactics. Isn’t that enough to cause a headache or confusion? Still, investigator meetings effectively communicate all of the requirements to the study personnel in a clean and easy to understand manner. There are also sessions on Good Clinical Practice (GCP) which have the primary goal to clarify all ethical and quality standards. Receiving such comprehensive information allows them to collect consistent, adequate, reliable and objective data. But what is even more, learning about the requirements improves the performance of participating study sites.
To continue with, these events are attended by people with varying professional background. That includes industry leaders, newcomers, and many other specialists coming from different locations. So investigator meetings give sponsors and CROs a chance to meet colleagues from all around the world and share expertise, exchange ideas or points of view, talk about their practices, see whether there are diverse trends and how they differentiate, or simply compare and contrast what experts know. Even when one has zero experience, going to this type of meetings will allow him/her to pick up useful information from others with more experience. On the whole, it’s a good way of learning both for investigators and others with similar positions.
Networking is yet something that is very often considered to be one of the advantages of attending such events. Speaking in a more traditional-oriented networking sense, attendees can really make new connections and can retain contacts with new sponsors.
Finally, the interactivity of these open dialogues help sponsors and the rest of the clinical trial personnel build better relations between themselves. That is valuable as it will establish better communication between sites in the future. Regardless of the subject that is being covered, having an open discussion allows for instant feedbacks on various concerns, insecurities, uncertainties and issues.
In conclusion, it is not a secret that contract research organisations and sponsors have many responsibilities. But one of the most cardinal ones is to make sure that every process is compliant with regulations, be that local or international too. Moreover, having correct documentation is also very crucial to clinical trials, so everyone who is involved should be familiar with key guidance, legislations and requirements. That’s why investigator meetings take place. They cast light on these subject matters and refer to the most appropriate approaches that can be implemented.