Benjamin Franklin once said, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” The clinical operations function of a company is all about organization, and optimizing this function is key to the delivery of clinical trials – without this team no clinical research activity could be delivered. There are more than 300,000 clinical trials ongoing worldwide at any time, so effective clinical operations could save a lot of time and money in the drug development process.
Clinical trials are a necessity for the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of diseases, but recruiting patients to conduct them can prove to be a challenge for clinical operations teams. A quantitative study conducted by Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development found that 11% of investigative sites failed to enroll a single patient. In a way to combat this, clinical operations teams are turning to social media to recruit patients for their trials. The study by Tufts brought together a group of 20 pharmaceutical companies including Lilly, Pfizer and Novartis. They have already piloted or tapped into social media with good results, with the report finding the number of patients being recruited on social media is increasing by 11%, year on year.
The payoff to a career in clinical operations is, of course, the satisfaction that comes with being involved in potentially lifesaving research, and enticingly most people working in clinical operations are usually paid excellent remunerations due to the importance of their role and the responsibility it carries.
Despite rapid growth in the field, there are still very few academic programs specifically devoted to clinical operations. Most people who work in clinical research operations come from a clinical research or health-related background, such as pharmacy. That experience is crucial to earning the Certified Clinical Research Associate (CCRA) credential from the Academy of Clinical Research Professionals, which indicates that you have met the professional standards of the organization and are qualified to serve in a research leadership role. Clinical operations is an in-demand specialty, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that jobs are expected to grow much faster than sector average, at 17%, by 2024.