The Association of Clinical Research Professionals

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The Association of Clinical Research Professionals

Travel Services for Patients Aim to Simplify Clinical Trial Participation

Specialized travel services that seek to bring clinical trial participants and researchers together more easily and efficiently have the added benefit of providing patients with an extra point of contact that is seen to be impartial, says Franc Jeffrey, CEO of EQ Travel Management with offices in the United Kingdom and Boston.

Historically, contract research organizations (CROs) handled the patient travel part of clinical trial logistics, as there was perceived to be no viable alternative, says Jeffrey, whose firm includes a division specializing in such services. “Now that clinical trial travel and expense reimbursement services are available, we see CROs happily giving this over to the travel company to manage, in order that they can concentrate specifically on how the trial is running at the site,” he notes. “Because we are in touch with the patients so much right after their recruitment, and on the way to and from their site visits, we often learn of patients’ concerns and issues that might not otherwise reach the research team, and we can give CROs anonymous feedback that helps them to ensure study retention.”

Such travel services for clinical trials are a niche market, populated by travel management companies that have other divisions. When offering the service, a company creates a travel policy for each study, Jeffrey explains. “We ensure travel is as simple as possible, but not ‘over comfortable,’” he says, “so that the institutional review boards do not see us as ‘buying’ participation.”

Now that such services have been around a decade or so with some chance to mature, Jeffrey looks to the “next phase” in the evolution of trial-related travel services being on the technical side, including the use of anonymizing software. “Such software will allow sponsors to approve all expense items in real time, but will keep them compliant with the need for ‘blind’ reporting and other regulatory considerations,” he says. “The same software will quicken expense reimbursement times, as it will allow a seamless flow from the claim to the back office to the expense payment.”

Author: Gary W. Cramer