The Future of Clinical Service Provider-Sponsor Relationships
The author analyzes the results of a survey that polled pharmaceutical executives and managers about both sides of the outsourcing relationship. Read this and other preferred organization articles in this special issue.
Figure 1: Sponsor companies described changes that they are making to improve the efficiency of their outsourcing relationships
(74 companies reporting). (ALL FIGURES ARE COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR)
Planned changes to outsourcing practices. When asked about the changes their companies anticipated making during the next five years to address the need for increased
outsourcing efficiency, sponsors' responses fell into a few major categories (see Figure 1). First, the majority intended
to consolidate more outsourced work within preferred-provider relationships, and most of these respondents also planned to
reduce the total number of suppliers they used. Second, most respondents planned to improve the ways that they measured, shared
information about, and managed the performance of their providers and the quality of their outsourcing relationships. Third,
most respondents planned to use improved criteria for provider selection. Finally, several respondents planned to change their
outsourcing models or to incorporate more risk-sharing clauses into their future contracts.
Figure 2: Provider companies described changes that they are making to improve the efficiency of their work with sponsors
(88 companies reporting).
Providers reported the intention to make changes of a similar nature (see Figure 2). As was the case for sponsors, the majority
of respondents planned to strive for long-term relationships, with an increased focus on repeat customers and preferred-provider
relationships. Also like sponsors, most providers planned to focus increasingly on relationship-management programs (including
customer feedback programs and performance measurement), and improved models for sharing information about outsourcing relationships.
The following sections will describe the detailed data that were obtained about several of these major trends.
Figure 3a: Approximate percentages of companies' clinical research outsourcing spend that went to preferred providers in 2009.
Consolidation of outsourcing relationships. As described, the majority of sponsors intended to consolidate more outsourced work within preferred-provider relationships.
At the time of the survey, 69% of the sponsor companies represented reported having preferred-provider relationships, including
97% of the top 20 companies and 49% of other companies.
Figure 3b: Changes in clinical research outsourcing spend on preferred providers between 2007 and the present.
Within the group that engaged preferred providers, the extent to which outsourcing spending was allocated to preferred versus
other providers varied widely. Forty-two percent of sponsor representatives stated that more than three-quarters of their
clinical-research outsourcing spending went to preferred providers, while 36% reported this fraction to be less than half
(see Figure 3). Seventy percent of respondents stated that the percentage of outsourcing spending allocated to preferred providers
had increased since 2007.