In the clinical research industry, Investigator Meetings (IMs) represent one of the few opportunities for organizers of clinical trials (sponsors and CROs) to engage directly with investigators. For our Question of the Month in November (#KCRQoM), we ask our visitors what is, in their opinion, the value of Investigator Meetings? To provide more context for the answers, we spoke with Mrs. Sari Jagielski, Founder and CEO of Evenio, a firm specializing in the organization of IMs, who has been collaborating with KCR for several years.
According to Mrs. Jagielski, the main purpose of an IM is to “move the study forward”. And this means several things. First, it means training investigators in the protocols and ensuring that they are capable of effectively executing the study. Second, it also means building a positive relationship with IMs to avoid operational problems. Lastly, but no less importantly, it means motivating sites to, among other things, recruit patients.
The CEO of Evenio is a firm believer that to achieve all three outcomes, i.e. to make IMs successful, you need to design Investigator Meetings with your audience in mind. In today’s world, there is a growing consensus that, as in everyday life, effective communication must run both ways to improve retention and ensure that the message has been understood. “Could we maybe deliver the content differently? More engaging or in a format that better supports the dialogue between stakeholders (Sponsor, Investigators, CRO)?” Often, the answer is yes: “Part of the message, for instance, can be delivered using real-life examples or a more informal setting. A concrete suggestion is to organize sessions as conversations between two facilitators or even as a panel”. Another concrete suggestion is to follow the growing trend in the world of communications and design the meeting around a narrative that articulates the different relevant topics, where the goals and concepts are clearly stated and transmitted with coherence.
As clinical trials grow in geographical scope, size and complexity, awareness of cultural differences is vital to ensure a successful IM, says Sari Jagielski. Meetings are usually conducted in English and people have different capabilities in the language. Often, it is difficult to provide live language support to all investigators during the meeting, since this adds cost and complexity. But there are other options that can be acted on to ensure everyone is engaged with the content, and that investigators from less extroverted environments do not feel “forced” to socialize, engage or interact, such as in break-out sessions in investigator’s native languages. During such sessions, you can have a representative from the sponsor and the CRO to answer questions and get to know the investigators, sometimes even CRAs can fill this role, since they will be in communication with sites and investigators. As Sari Jagielski points out: “What is important is to have a connection with the people”.
Finally, we asked about the future of IMs, where they are going and where they should go. For Mrs. Jagielski, in the future, we will see a better use of technology to improve the execution of IMs, however innovation and technology should be used wisely to ensure its use is functional and drives outcomes rather than being used for show. She believes face-to-face meetings still have an added value and, while travelling for the sake of travelling should not be encouraged on environmental grounds, personal meetings still provide a good opportunity to build rapport and create meaningful connections between stakeholders: “It does not have to be an extravaganza, it should be about connecting”.
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