Teamwork is an important skill you learn as a young child and practice as you age — whether it was working with your classmates on a school project, coming together with your teammates to win a big state game in college, or sharing responsibilities with your spouse when raising kids. Life is all about teamwork. And your clinical study should be no different.
Although it's not required, hosting an investigator meeting at the beginning of your clinical study can be helpful in a number of ways. When done well, an investigator meeting can help transform a group of people into a true team. These meetings can provide the framework for a successful research initiative by establishing leadership responsibilities, open communication, and a commitment to excellence. Here's how.
Form a Strong Team with the Help of Leadership
Leadership is essential to the success of your clinical trial, which is why it's imperative that your study's leaders (the clinical project team) host an investigator meeting.
Much like a basketball team gets excited by the prospect of a successful season, creates a game plan to achieve such a season, and works together to make that goal a reality, so, too, does your clinical study team.
It's likely that the clinical project team has been preparing for this study for months, looking at data from earlier phase studies and drafting a comprehensive protocol for the current study. The investigator meeting is their opportunity to share the "game plan" with the study’s key “players.” The team will communicate specific processes and procedures that need to be followed (i.e. the “X”s and “O”s), but also the “why" — why the trial will help pave the way to improved patient care and outcomes. The clinical project leaders will explain the overall vision and importance of executing the game plan as designed in order to get the team’s full engagement and commitment.
Identify Roles and Responsibilities through Clear Communication
Clearly communicating roles and responsibilities is also vital to a successful trial. Each team member must understand not only his/her own role and responsibilities (as they need to be accountable for their own tasks), but also understand the roles of other team members. This allows team members to utilize each other’s strengths.
The investigator meeting is a great place to start open communication between key parties (sites, monitors, safety, etc.) and to discuss how best to work together to be accountable and successful. Everyone’s efforts are important to the success of the team. When teams leverage each individual’s strengths and understanding in how their roles interrelate, the whole team (and the research initiative) succeeds.
Proactively Prevent Issues
Not only is the investigator meeting important for creating a strategy behind your clinical study, but having multiple team members together at the same time can stir up potential issues down the road and help you proactively prevent them rather than solving them later.
Of course, unforeseen issues could still arise throughout the study. The most important part about solving issues during your study is learning from that experience and using it to make better, more proactive decisions in your next study.
Don't Forget to Have Fun!
Successful teams also have fun. An investigator meeting allows team members to get to know and enjoy being with one another while outside of the clinic setting. They talk not only about the trial, but also about their work experiences, lessons learned, and themselves. Providing this bonding opportunity, especially early on in the project, is an invaluable team-building experience.
While it is best to conduct these meetings in person, there are times when your budget and schedule won't allow it. In these instances, it's great to know that many of the same things can be accomplished virtually. However, investing time and money upfront can save you time and money down the road. And we think that's well worth the investment.