Your Investigators are SO MUCH MORE! 3 Ways to WOW them at the next Investigator Meeting
“I was reflecting on so many productive and positive conversations that I had over the last two days. I simply can’t believe it!”
-Chief Business Officer who attended an investigator meeting produced by SBHC in 2017
An investigator meeting is a venue to discuss issues surrounding a clinical trial. These meetings offer an opportunity to introduce the protocol, discuss protocol updates, review recruitment challenges and enrollment issues, and cover other related topics.
The investigator meeting is also an excellent time to build a relationship with your primary investigators and study coordinators. Top investigators often fill multiple roles for biopharma companies. They will likely be your Key Opinion Leaders or KOLs, and some may also be speakers and educators in your pre-launch and launch phases. Investigators and study coordinators work directly with patients and may educate on patient advocacy and the patient journey with ease.
Because of this, your investigator meeting is often one of the first and best places to build important relationships, glean key advisory notes, and plan for future partnerships across the product life cycle.
With a well-planned and executed investigator meeting, a variety of objectives can be achieved.
3 Ways to WOW
Impressing the investigator is always a goal. Three ways to meet that goal is to be thoughtful, welcoming, and creative. Let’s explore ways to WOW.
1. Plan a central location. This may seem arbitrary, but clinical teams will appreciate a central location that offers the ease of travel. Map out the clinical sites and pick an appealing spot that most teams can get to quickly.
2. Family-friendly. Keep in mind the travel needs of investigators and study coordinators. While they will be at the meeting, some may be traveling with family for a vacation or extended weekend trip. Provide a list of family-friendly activities in the area, and remind everyone that families will be at their own travel expense.
3. Time management. Be considerate and appreciative of the investigators time. If possible, avoid having them miss more than 1 day at the hospital or clinic. Give them the option to plan from home before the meeting. Provide them with any necessary log-ins and passwords to the protected portal, if applicable.
If any pre-reads are required, planning from home gives the investigators a way to become comfortable with the material and be prepared when they are onsite. It also increases their ability to engage during the meeting and fosters an environment of collaboration with sponsors and research sites.
1. Meeting Preparation.Prepare your guests by providing all the information they need before the meeting, like confirmations and reminders. Confirm relevant information for the location, such as temperature and expected dress-code. Send calendar invitations for easy planning and saving to their schedules. Work with your travel vendors to offer reminders and calendar appointments for flights. Make it practically impossible for attendees to not know “where”, “when”, and “how” with regards to getting to the meeting.
2. Flights and Lodging. Ground transport should be offered to all guests from the airport to the hotel venue. Ask the manager of the hotel to set-up a registration table near check-in. Greet attendees nicely as they arrive at the hotel. Everyone appreciates a warm welcome!
3. Welcome and Agenda. Have welcome packets ready. Include a welcome letter and agenda for the meeting. Guests can stop at the registration table before going to their rooms to gather their welcome packets. Greet them with a smile and ensure they had comfortable travels to the hotel.
Plan a welcome reception/dinner the evening that they arrive. A business-casual welcome dinner gives an excellent opportunity for the clinical development/operations team to socialize with the investigators. Conversations will be sparked on a variety of topics, so representatives from medical affairs, business development, and marketing may also want to attend.
The room should be intimate, yet spacious enough for individual conversations. Place high-top tables near the bar, with rounds for sitting and eating. Offer a nice food and drink selection for your guests. Playing music in the background helps to set the tone. A few speakers and a soft, jazz playlist are all you need to kick off the meeting right.
Fresh flowers, comfortable seating, and nice linens should be placed on all tables, assuming this can fit into the budget. All of this, with the help of a nice welcome speech from the host (chief medical officer or clinical development lead), should create a memorable evening with excellent networking and conversation! All of these "welcoming" gestures will make your investigators/study coordinators feel ready to contribute at the meeting.
1.Welcome/Thank You gift. Within budget and regulation, consider a memorable welcome gift that can be room-dropped to all attendees. Some examples include personalized stainless steel water bottles, USB memory sticks, and device chargers. These should be delivered with a handwritten note signed by the host(s) of the meeting to give a personalized touch.
2. Look beyond the meeting. Think about the challenges your invitees may be facing during study activities. Consider the following questions when preparing the agenda to get the most out of a meeting with your investigators:
Would smaller, breakout sessions be helpful where investigators/study coordinators could discuss recruitment challenges?
Where could they discuss challenges with the protocol? Who should they speak to about these challenges?
Are potential enrollees in the trial not proceeding due to unclear language or transportation issues?
Are investigators and study coordinators getting all the information that they need to enhance recruitment for the trial? Would anything else be helpful?
Setting up smaller sessions to tackle these potential concerns will be appreciated by your attendees and will give the medical and clinical development team a chance to learn directly from the sites.
Another way to extend hospitality includes having boarding passes printed for attendees that are leaving on the last day of the meeting. For any investigators that are staying in town a little longer, offer help with recommendations for restaurants or sites to visit after the meeting.
Close the meeting with a recap of the agenda and any key themes that were discussed.
3. Thank You Communication. Once attendees have a day or two to think about the meeting, they may come up with new, unique solutions to challenges. Send thank-you notes a few days after the meeting to keep the conversation going and allow them additional opportunities to share recommendations and ideas. Use this feedback to plan the next event.
Are you ready to WOW the attendees at your next meeting? Use the tips above to create relationships and engagement that will last beyond the closing ceremony. Learning to engage and giving them a good experience will help them gain your trust, participate in and enhance the study, and come back again when the opportunity arises.