CATEGORIES: Clinical trial; Engagement; Investigator; Investigator meeting
Clinical trials are significant investments by pharmaceutical companies; however, data entry errors and study-site variations can cause delays, increase costs or confound data interpretation. Study sponsors and management teams often arrange updates, supplementary training or problem-solving meetings with investigators to ensure that the trial is operating a smoothly as possible. However, these investigator meetings can be mundane events that focus mostly on the delivery of information by the sponsor, rather than investigator input or engagement. This situation appears to be contradictory given the high emphasis placed on face-to-face engagement during the elaborate principal investigator meetings that take place in the weeks before study drug is distributed to the sites. In truth, investigator meetings are often poorly motivational and the sponsors are left uncertain as to the impact of their efforts.
Online (virtual) investigator meetings are becoming increasingly common as they provide a cheap and convenient alternative to face-to-face meetings. However, the use of standard web conferencing facilities does not serve to increase engagement and does not fulfil the major purposes of a synchronous live event: to promote discussion, identify potential issues and share best practices between investigators. To a large extent, these limitations are helped by ensuring that every participant appears on webcam; a key requirement of the new platform of virtual interactive (Vi) investigator meetings.
Webcams increase participant engagement in online meetings because: they instil ownership and responsibility of views, promote familiarity (and good humour) between protagonists, allow participants to use visual emphasis to their comments or reactions and provide a continuous point focus on participants’ screens. In addition, webcams ensure the continuous presence of each participant during a meeting, allowing the sponsor and moderator to evaluate the relative levels of engagement throughout. When used in virtual interactive investigator meetings (that promote active participation through the use of customised interactions), webcams contribute significantly to the heightened dynamic and increased sense of involvement.