Striking the Perfect Balance Between Innovation and Cost-Effectiveness for Global Investigator Meetings


A leading global healthcare company, which markets to more than 175 countries, sought a medical communications agency to assist them with their investigator meetings. They needed help organizing a series of Phase 3 investigator meetings around the globe, which would cover ten trials.

With investigator meetings come several challenges, including attracting and engaging physicians and other healthcare professionals. They must do so within a reasonable budget, and they must remain compliant with local regulatory restrictions, like the Sunshine Act in the USA.

Pharmaceutical companies have always been faced with key investigators choosing to forego attendance at their investigator meetings. Since there is no payment for attending and other forms of training must be completed (documented e-Training, for example), they may not feel it’s worth their time to attend. Robin Kerbel, CEO of Six Degrees Medical Consulting, comments, “Most pharma companies want the primary investigators to attend their meetings, but what often happens is that a sub-investigator or a study nurse is sent in their place. It’s important to make these meetings stand out so that all of these individuals are interested in attending.”

Since investigator meetings cover both the science behind why a study is being conducted, as well as protocol and other study-related training, these meetings provide context and also ensure that sites are properly prepared to conduct the study. However, when site participants don’t receive this training, costly issues can arise, including problems with data quality and high screen failure rates. To ensure the highest quality of data, it is important that the meetings attract the necessary participants. Kerbel comments, “Our primary goal is to have both investigators and study coordinators attend and prioritize our client’s study over other studies. There is considerable competition to find patients to participate in a clinical trial. If a trial does not recruit sufficient patients, the statistical power of the trial will be insufficient and this can affect whether a drug receives regulatory approval to go to market.”

For their Phase 3 meetings, the company needed to find an agency that would create a valuable experience for all participants – one they would not want to miss – while remaining compliant with all relevant international regulations. Holding cost-effective meetings was also a priority, and adding to this challenge was the fact that the meetings would be held on multiple continents, including North America, Europe and Asia. With a variety of cultural groups to satisfy, the company was tasked with finding an agency with proven success running highly engaging meetings, and on a global scale.


When Six Degrees Medical works on investigator meetings, they feel an obligation to their clients, and to themselves, to put forward unique ideas for each meeting or series of meetings. Kerbel comments, “Six Degrees has always looked to move beyond the traditional model of investigator meetings. We want to create an engaging and memorable experience, one that motivates sites and fully prepares them to go back and start enrolling subjects as soon as possible after the meeting takes place.”

Six Degrees Medical also understands that controlling costs is important in today’s economic climate. They always strive to put together programs that are as cost-effective as possible for their clients and at the same time, innovative, enjoyable and memorable for attendees.

To achieve that balance between innovation and cost-effectiveness, for the Phase 3 meetings, Six Degrees Medical deployed an overarching planning team, which met with the company’s planning team regularly over the course of the entire meeting program. Six Degrees Medical used their project road map, one of their proven processes, as a starting point. Together with the company’s planning team, they laid out the complete investigator meeting program, including agenda and theme development, workshop preparation, and setting meeting tone and pace.

From plenary sessions to workshops to breaks, Six Degrees Medical created meetings that were interesting and engaging for both investigators and study coordinators, all within the company’s budget and in compliance with local regulations.


Six Degrees Medical evaluates each individual meeting they hold. The meeting score is an indicator of the engagement of the audience and their satisfaction with the meeting, including its contents and delivery. Any score above 4.4 out of 5 means the meeting was a success. The scores from the company’s Phase 3 investigator meetings ranged between 4.6 and 4.8.

Six Degrees Medical also monitored the audiences’ engagement throughout the meeting program. Based on this feedback and their ratings, the meetings were deemed very successful. Consequently, they have been granted new opportunities to work on the company’s follow up meetings.


Six Degrees Medical Consulting is a leader in global medical communications. For over a decade, our meetings and events, medical writing services and medical training programs have helped clients optimize their brand, disease and corporate objectives. Building client relationships that last, our team brings intuitive strategy, tactical innovation and executional excellence to every project.


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