MCC Industry Practice Insight Reports

Improving Clinical Site Payment Practices

FACT: Delayed payments from sponsors and CROs are putting their study sites in financial difficulty, leading many to turn away from clinical research altogether.

But here’s good news: A first-of-its-kind study shows exactly how payment processes are failing … and how sponsors and CROs can resolve this crisis and start building stronger site relationships.

Demand for high-quality clinical study sites is increasing as the number of available sites is dwindling. Sites can afford to pick and choose among trials vying for their business. What they can’t afford is to work with a sponsor that doesn’t pay them on time.

Yet that’s exactly what’s happening: Recent research shows that up to 40% of sites drop out of an FDA-regulated clinical trial because of delays in payments.

But why is it happening? If you want to be a “sponsor of choice,” you need to know how well your payment process is working and how satisfied your sites are.

That’s why I think you’ll want to get your hands on a groundbreaking new study from Metrics Champion Consortium—“Improving Clinical Site Payment Practices.”

These research findings are powerful and will help you improve your payment process and build stronger relationships with your site partners.

Perhaps the most surprising fact to emerge from this research is the disconnect between clinical sites and sponsors/CROs. Eighty-seven percent of sponsors/CROs believe clinical site payment is a critical process, but study findings show they don’t give it the attention it requires. In fact, most of them don’t even see the problem, according to the study. Consider these statistics:

  • 72% of sponsors that manage the site payment process in house – rather than outsourcing to a CRO – think it works well; and
  • 65% of CROs agree.
  • BUT only 20% of sites are satisfied with how and when they are paid.

If you appreciate the value of your clinical study sites and are committed to forging stronger relationships with them, I recommend you immediately review the compelling results found in “Improving Clinical Site Payment Practices.”

As one survey respondent said, “This is a very important topic and dictates how sites feel about working with certain sponsors. We need to keep our sites happy by paying them in a timely fashion, because without them, we cannot run a trial.”

This research also gives you benchmarking data that can help you target specific payment practices for improvement. It covers the following payment issues:

  • Triggers sponsors and CROs use to initiate the payment process
  • Cycle time metrics used
  • Cycle time performance targets
  • How well “the payer” is performing against established performance targets
  • Frequency of occurrence of various payment problems
  • Strategies that have proven to speed the payment process

Most sponsors/CROs track the time between payment trigger and payment delivery, but few get into the nitty gritty details that can show them what’s going wrong and why. This report offers sponsors and CROs a detailed roadmap to the source of the most troublesome payment issues.

It’s time to take a hard look at the health of your site payment process, find the problems, fix them and boost your reputation with sites as a sponsor that pays on time.



MCC Members can purchase the report at the 20% discounted rate by logging in to the MCC Member Website. For assistance please contact MCC Customer Service.

To be invoiced for the report, please contact Lara Knitter for assistance.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
    • Using More and Better Metrics
    • Simplifying the Process
    • Improving Communication and Transparency
  • Survey Results
    • Targets and Triggers
    • Using Metrics to Define the Problem
    • Common Metrics v. Best Metrics
  • Conclusion
  • About the Study Authors
  • About Metrics Champion Consortium

List of Figures

  • Figure 1: Types of Respondents
  • Figure 2: Satisfaction with the Current Payment Model, by Organization Type
  • Figure 3: How Payers Define Length of Payment Cycle
  • Figure 4: Site Payment Triggering Events
  • Figure 5: Sponsor/CRO Payment Targets v. Site Experience of Payment
  • Figure 6: Metrics Used by Payers
  • Figure 7: Frequency of Issue Compared to Use ofAssociated Metric