Understanding Top Trends in Clinical Research and Their Impact on Staffing

Clinical research is a dynamic field that continually evolves in response to advancements in technology, changes in regulations, and shifts in healthcare priorities. As we navigate through the complexities of this ever-changing landscape, it’s crucial for organizations and professionals involved in clinical research staffing to stay abreast of the latest trends shaping the industry. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the top trends in clinical research and examine their implications for staffing.

Top Trends in Clinical Research

Clinical research has already seen wide-ranging developments in the early part of the post-pandemic era, with trial volume being among the most noticeable areas of change. COVID-19 brought clinical research to a halt to slow the spread of the virus, but as the restrictions loosened and the demand for new drugs grew more urgent, new trials came pouring forth. As of September 2023, more than 460,000 clinical trials are registered on ClinicalTrials.gov, with about 14% reaching the active recruitment phase.1

The increase in trial numbers has facilitated — and been facilitated by — a decentralized model of trial distribution. With a decentralized clinical trial (DCT), some of the trial’s activities occur outside a traditional trial site, such as in a local care facility, a laboratory, or a trial participant’s home. According to Dr. Leonard Sacks, the associate director for clinical methodology at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Medical Policy, the restrictions and precautions of the pandemic era have motivated sponsors to begin trials away from usual sites, and now DCTs are trending.2

In addition to trial volume and distribution, we’ve seen the growing influence of technology, for example, artificial intelligence and entities such as contract research organizations. Respectively, they’ve helped to jumpstart drug discovery and accelerate clinical development.

What the Clinical Research Trend Means to Staffing

The above trends have changed the landscape of clinical research and research organizations’ approaches to staffing. The following are the principal impacts we’ve seen or may see in the years to come:

An Increased Demand for Clinical Research Professionals

The increase in trial volume has led to a corresponding increase in the demand for talent to fill vital roles. That’s in addition to the challenges of staff turnover that clinical trial organizations are already facing. It’s more than understaffed trials that’s the issue; it’s also finding associates who have sufficient experience to facilitate good and accurate trial results. With demand for personnel outweighing supply, coordinators may need to focus more on retention and other strategies to overcome staffing challenges.

A Focus on Tech Skills

Given the growth of DCTs and the proliferation of AI, we expect to see a refocus on recruiting tech-savvy candidates who can navigate the new clinical research landscape. That could mean recruiting talent with strong data management competencies so that information is conveyed appropriately and stored securely. As for AI, coordinators will need associates who are at least familiar with its functions and capabilities to use it properly.

The Need for Expert Consultation

Clinical Research Organizations (CROs) can accelerate development by taking responsibility for a wide range of trial operations. However, you will want to ensure you select the right CRO to work with. It’s essential to be sure it has the right level of expertise, clinical knowledge, service quality, patient access, and territorial reach, to name just a few factors. Determining the “right level,” though, isn’t always easy, so the guidance of an expert consultant can help you make the right decision.

Screening and hiring the right talent for your clinical trial requires time and resources, both of which may be in short supply when trying to manage the many moving parts that trials entail. You can overcome the challenge of coordinating research and recruitment activities by leveraging a staffing partner such as Medix. With over 3 million candidates in a diverse nationwide staffing pool, we provide access to a tremendous variety of talent with the right specialized skill sets to meet your staffing needs. Contact us today to discover how we can foster your trial’s success.

  1. “Trends, Charts, and Maps,” ClinicalTrials.gov, September 14, 2023, https://classic.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/resources/trends.
  2. “The Evolving Role of Decentralized Clinical Trials and Digital Health Technologies,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, May 2, 2023, https://www.fda.gov/drugs/news-events-human-drugs/evolving-role-decentralized-clinical-trials-and-digital-health-technologies
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