CRO-ePRO Partnerships and Best Practices

May 12, 2011 Heather Bilinski

Gregg Jewett BlogIn March and April, we devoted two webinars to CRO-ePRO Partnership and Best Practices.  Based on feedback from our Sponsors and various users, we knew that this topic was critical for all parties in our industry, and most importantly, for our biopharmaceutical Sponsors.  Frankly, we also realized it was a topic given very little attention to date.  To that end, we launched a CRO-ePRO Best Practices Task Force (with five leading CROs), conducted some additional research, and planned to discuss our findings in a broader forum.

In the two-part webinar series, we talked about the history of how, independently, CROs and ePRO have impacted and been impacted by the challenges and changes in the biopharmaceutical and clinical trial industry over the past decade.  We also explored some developments to expect from CROs and ePRO in the coming years.  We went on to discuss a few central trends that are actually drawing CROs and ePRO providers together at an increasing rate.  From our research and discussion, it is this convergence of CRO and ePRO that is really most fascinating. 

The Sponsor-only survey that CRF Health recently conducted, examined both CRO and ePRO adoption rates, and the results were impressive.  It highlighted the fact that there was already significant utilization of CROs to support clinical trials, as well as clear utilization of ePRO providers where PROs were included in protocols – over 90% for both.  Even with such towering percentages to start, survey results also showed that high numbers (over 60%) of responders expect their utilization of CROs and ePRO providers to increase further over the next two years.  The most interesting data that surfaced from the survey showed there was a major gap between biopharmaceutical Sponsors that believed a CRO-ePRO partnership to be “important” and Sponsors that currently “employ” a CRO ePRO partnership in practice.

partnership ePRO CRO blogWe went on to talk about what a partnership between a CRO and an ePRO provider yields (clarity of responsibilities, speed of task completion, efficiency of patient data) and who benefits the most (Sponsors and Sponsors’ clinical trials), as well as the tangible steps that can be taken toward partnership in the form of best practices.

Two members of our CRO-ePRO Best Practices Task Force were co-presenters, Marisa Bower from PharmaNet and Travis Smith from PPD, along with CRF Health Program Manager, Jane Carter.  They covered the categories of Business Development, Data Management and Integration, and Operations/Delivery, respectively.  They identified a number of best practices within their categories, and provided their direct experiences with them.  Additionally they explained why these working practices were specifically identified as important CRO-ePRO best practices.

We finished the webinar with one last question from the survey which was most revealing about the Sponsor’s desire for strategic CRO-ePRO partnerships.   

Based on the industry survey results, there is clearly much to be gained by CRO-ePRO partnerships and the employment of best practices between these important partners.

Given the myriad of challenges that continue to be directed at clinical trials these days, there are only a few ways that can truly improve the accuracy, the efficiency and the value of a clinical trial’s patient data.  A CRO-ePRO Partnership is unquestionably one of them.

By the way, you can access the CRO-ePRO Partnership and Best Practices Webinars by visiting this link on CRF Health’s website:


Best regards,

Gregg Jewett

About the Author

Heather Bilinski

Associate Director of Marketing at CRF Health

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