The Clinical ‘Connectors’ for Escalation Services

Mar 22, 2017

Director of Account Management

Effective call handling of medical issues that arise during a clinical trial requires much more than checking a list of the required medical monitors for a specific country.

Help desk analysts who handle incoming calls from the principal investigators of a trial (PIs), and sometimes patients, need to be equipped with the necessary background information to follow approved procedures and to make intelligent judgments. These “field agents” determine which calls should be escalated for medical information, and which calls can be resolved at first-call resolution directly from the contact center.


A Global Approach

Because of the frequently global nature of clinical trials (that is, trials being conducted in different countries either simultaneously or in stages, or companies conducting different types of trials in many countries), the best clinical support contact centers provide multilingual support and, of course, abide by the necessary country-specific regulations.

Yet there’s another critical component, one that is too easily overlooked: the ability to ensure consistent services in any country at all hours, day or night. Call it centralized, streamlined, or unified — the structuring of contact centers in this way pays dividends in allowing your clinical trial programs to be interconnected, especially in terms of knowledge-sharing, data collecting and maximizing operational efficiencies.


The Three Golden Rules

At C3i Healthcare Connections, we recognize that even if the total number of incoming calls are minimal during a clinical trial, which is more often than not the case, each and every call and interaction needs to be handled with the utmost importance and urgency. In planning clinical contact center support programs, we consider these top factors:

  • Every contact center needs to be staffed appropriately and allow for incoming calls to be received 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Due to the sensitive nature of the calls, they cannot be inadvertently “dropped” or picked up by voicemail. We ensure safeguards against these potential pitfalls.
  • Turnaround time is critical, because by the time a contact center receives a call from the PI, there is an understanding that there is an active medical issue. Whether an agent reaches out to a trial monitor or a healthcare adviser, or can refer to an interactive voice response (IVR) system, they are focused on getting the right answers — right away. In one program, C3iHC reduced the handling of a resolution by 65 percent, resolving all escalations within a given year within a total of 35 seconds.
  • Every call must be properly documented. These notes are reviewed by the clinical trial manager and pharmaceutical company, as well as C3iHC contact center managers and directors. By reviewing prior cases, we can discover where there may be room for improvement or process enhancements in the future.


In clinical support services, the role of agents should not be overlooked. They serve as an important bridge, where pharmaceutical companies and trial leaders depend on agents to deliver medical connection services in a timely way, through a reliable process.


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