As anyone working within the clinical research industry will already know, practitioner retention rates aren’t quite as high as we’d like them to be. Turnover is creating a notably shrinking clinical workforce. In fact, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Clifford Lane reports that ‘fewer professionals are entering the research field than in the past’. The question we must now be asking is ‘why?’ Why is this the case today, at a time when research is more critical and technology more advanced than ever? What is it that is dissuading talented individuals from pursuing a career in this field and what can be done to bridge that gap?
Challenges facing clinical teams
Clinical teams are under pressure. There are many aspects that are contributing towards the unprecedentedly high turnover rate amongst team members in labs up and down the country.
One area that’s worth delving into further is support services and administration. The handling and effective management of patient-reported outcome questionnaires (PROs) is one of the biggest challenges facing researchers today. A high level of inconsistency in PRO administration is a major concern across the industry as a whole, with almost half of all research practitioners believing they do not have the necessary training to carry out this vital task in an effective manner. Workplace stress and frustration is resulting in burnout, which leaves teams short-staffed and the profession under served.
Burnout in research settings
According to a report published in the Professional Psychology: Research and practice journal, burnout amongst clinical researchers is very real, and is very much a primary concern within the industry at this time. Of all the possible reasons for burnout, including the potential for ethical dilemmas that may arise during trials, one of the biggest factors facilitating stress within the workplace has been identified as a high perceived daily workload, suggesting that clinical teams are feeling overwhelmed with their tasks.
Health and wellbeing
To prevent burnout in clinical staff and work to reduce the high turnover rate currently being experienced across the industry, it is essential for pharma businesses to prioritise the health and wellbeing of their human resources. Through establishing a virtual helpdesk for protocol support, medical queries, administration, and clinical trial digital support services, businesses can help and encourage their clinical teams to delegate some of the more predictable tasks without having to relinquish control over the project
The rise of automation
Automation in business is a rapidly emerging trend, with technologies such as chatbots taking over many aspects of customer service and lead generation, freeing up valuable internal resources for more productive and profitable tasks. And while automation may not be a suitable solution for clinical trials, it does highlight the growing importance of handing over support tasks to available resources such as virtual assistants and, in the pharma world, virtual CROs, who can successfully work to take the pressure off clinical teams, improve researcher wellbeing, and reduce staff turnover.
To find out more about how Virtual Clinical can help to ease the burden and relieve the pressure your clinical team may be feeling, contact us now.