Staffing Best Practices for Your Organization’s Flu Study

Flu season is fast approaching. While much of the public hasn’t even considered their annual shot, many healthcare and life sciences organizations are gearing up for flu studies. The research conducted during these studies is critical in judging the efficacy of this year’s vaccine and the development of next year’s vaccine.

One critical component of a flu study is the data collection that occurs on site, during patient interactions. For example, individuals who show up in a clinical setting and test positive for the flu are asked questions such as: “Did you receive a flu shot?” and “Did you receive the vaccine via nasal spray?” and “How severe are your symptoms?” The answers to these seemingly simple questions become part of a vital data set.

As a research site, from a hospital to a private clinical research site to a retail pharmacy to a university medical center, this leads to questions about resources. You may wonder what type of staff you need for your role, when you should start recruiting this staff, and whether or not you should outsource it. Fortunately, we have the answers to these questions in the form of best practices, so that you can scale up for a successful flu study.


What type of staff do you need for your role in this flu study?

Typically, the sponsor, which is often a pharmaceutical company, outsources a study to clinical research organizations, who contract with various sites to interface with patients and collect data. Sites typically don’t have the in-house staff for a study not because of lack of skill, but because of lack of time. You’re probably familiar with this. This staff, including clinical research coordinators, clinical research assistants, and medical assistants, covers time-consuming administrative and research functions.

Best Practice

As important as it is to identify the types of positions you need to fill, it’s just as important to identify the number of positions. Being understaffed compromises quality, and being overstaffed risks budget adherence. You should also have your staffing partner measure each candidate based on attention to detail and communication skills, which are both paramount to success. Here at Medix, we use a “MyPrint” assessment tool to screen candidates for these specific soft skills.


When should you start recruiting this staff?

In short, now. While there’s not a shortage of this type of entry- to mid-level staff, there’s also not a surplus of it looking for short-term work. There is one factor which could enable you to start slightly sooner or later compared to your counterparts: location. Bigger markets obviously have deeper talent pools, while rural locations struggle to find local candidates. And the flu tends to spread quicker in the upper half of the country, where cold weather causes people to congregate together inside, with a higher propensity to catch the flu.

Best Practice

It’s a silly expression, but the early bird gets the worm. Assuming you’ve been selected as a research site, it’s never too early to engage candidates. Some, who prefer to jump from temporary gig to temporary gig, may plan ahead and be ready to commit. It’s also beneficial to at least remind passive candidates about the opportunity now, because they can always become active candidates later, if or when their employment situations change.


Do we outsource all of it?

You probably should, because there’s a potential opportunity cost—both financially and medically—to pull permanent staff off critical ongoing projects and redirect them to flu studies. This is especially true when you can cost-effectively outsource. Sure, it will consume a large portion of your budget, but you will likely more than make up for it when your current staff doesn’t burn out and lose focus on their day-to-day responsibilities.

Best Practice

Outsource the administrative and clinical research work associated with flu studies. This way, you have experienced people who are focused on it, but only for as long as the study, which is usually six or so months.


At Medix, we know clinical research. We understand the nuance of it and the soft skills it requires. We’ve been staffing sites with flu studies for many years. Connect with us today to staff yours.

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