Staying Connected in Crisis : Strong site communication channels stand up to pressure
KK Rumrill, Global Head, Trial Design & Site Engagement, IQVIA Technologies
Apr 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting extraordinary challenges to the clinical trial industry. Distancing measures combined with varied local and national mitigation efforts have not only impacted patient and provider interactions but also communication between sponsors and sites. Sites are in an unprecedented state of flux, and the pressure to understand the situation, protect patients and providers, and determine how to ensure continuity is on. Now more than ever, strong communication channels between sponsors and sites are critical.

In this environment, the community-building Site Engagement module of our Investigator Site Portal is proving to be crucial.

Why Site Engagement?

Site Engagement tools are popular because they provide actionable information to keep sites on track with activation, study tasks, and data query resolutions during the normal course of trials. Just as importantly, they create a single, trusted source of news and information for sites. Investigator personnel and site-facing staff become accustom to finding and relying on helpful announcements as they use a study portal to perform their roles in a trial.

What happens in a crisis?

Having a strong channel of communication established before a crisis hits can make a huge difference in a sponsor’s response. During an urgent or quickly evolving situation, sites need to trust that the information they are receiving is reliable and authoritative. With Site Engagement tools inside a study portal, that trust is already thoroughly established, and site personnel know exactly where to go to get real-time updates directly from the sponsor. Communicating regularly with sites, specifically during a time of crisis, allows both sponsors and sites to deal with the current situation while setting up the trial for success in the future.

Site Engagement during COVID-19

Right now, sponsors are using Site Engagements tools within the IQVIA Site Portal to provide near real-time updates to sites. In March alone, nearly 1450 study communications were sent across 220 studies. With the status of sites and trials rapidly changing by the day, this level of communication and access to reliable information has proven critical.

And although the acute nature of the epidemic is at the forefront of actions and continuity plans, thoughts soon need to turn to how these studies will start up again when life returns to normal. The IQVIA Investigator Site Portal keeps sites updated and engaged even when a study is idle; so when it’s time to start up again, sites can hit the ground running.

Hope for the future

Creating a sense of community is a key reason that sponsors use Site Engagement for their studies; and during a crisis, this community is of utmost importance. Sponsors are showing leadership, keeping morale high, and instilling hope that while the situation is serious at the current moment, it will not last forever.

If you'd like to discuss ways to keep sites informed and engaged, now and in the future, then please reach out to me by sending an email to

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