Recent research has revealed that specialists earn significantly more than primary care physicians (PCPs), somewhere between 34-52% more revenue annually.1 What’s more, visits to PCPs dropped 24% from 2008-2016 and the number of adults who didn’t visit a PCP at all rose 46.4% during the same period.2 And that’s before the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Though your main goal is to help your patients lead the healthiest lives possible, you also need to make money. But, between comparatively low revenue and dropping visit rates, how are you supposed to turn a profit?  

Adding specialized clinical research as care to your practice can make the financial impact you’re looking for. One practice earned over $600,000 of incremental research revenue in their first year of conducting trials!3 Serving as a site also means you get to help advance the development of new therapies and your patients get access to cutting-edge care — a win, win, win.  

How to Become a Clinical Trial Physician  

Between training and technology, infrastructure and administrative details, there’s a lot to do when you’re adding research to your primary care, internal medicine, or family medicine practice. To successfully go from PCP to research specialist, you need to focus on 7 key areas:  

1) Business Development  

Like any other business, you need to have a steady stream of studies coming into your site for it to be successful. Also like other businesses, strong relationships are essential to keep the work flowing in. Build a robust study pipeline by connecting with the pharma, biotech, med device, and diagnostic companies that are running trials — what the research industry calls “sponsors.” Make your pipeline even stronger by building relationships with contract research organizations (CROs) that run studies on sponsors’ behalf.  

2) Study Feasibility  

Perhaps the biggest thing sponsors care about when considering your practice for a study is if you have enough patients who match the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Develop a study feasibility workflow that helps you search your patient database and create accurate counts to present to potential sponsor partners or feature in the trial’s feasibility questionnaire.  

3) Budget Development & Contract Negotiation  

When you’re selected as a site for a particular study, you’ll need to negotiate a contract and budget with the study sponsor. To get higher reimbursements and faster contract execution, go into negotiations armed with information like hourly rates, inflation, time spent on administrative duties, and other costs.  

4) Study Startup  

You and your staff will need to learn a new protocol and familiarize yourselves with a different investigated product for every trial you conduct. Most trials will also come with specific platforms, software, and other technology that will require onboarding time. Come up with a process that your practice can follow to streamline study startup.  

5) Patient Recruitment  

In most cases, you’ll have to recruit additional trial patients beyond those you already see. Though it does mean extra work, patient recruitment gives you the opportunity to develop relationships and rapport with new patients, so they stay with your practice after the trial is over. Sponsors usually provide recruitment materials like websites and brochures — don’t be afraid to use them.  

6) Study Coordination  

Once the trial is enrolled and launched, you have to run it. Study coordination involves everything from scheduling visits and seeing patients to collecting data, reporting data, and preparing for possible inspections. Look into clinical trial technology to help you run the administrative and data management aspects of research.  

7) Financial Management  

If you’re conducting clinical trials to increase your revenue, you need to make sure you get paid in full and on time. Create a financial management process for your site that helps you stay on top of payments and manages your sponsor relationships.  

The Easiest Way to Conduct Clinical Trials  

You want to offer your patients cutting-edge care, increase your revenue, and help accelerate the development of new medicines and therapies, but establishing a new site that stands out in these 7 key areas can be overwhelming. Unless you partner with Elligo Health Research®

Our End-to-End Research Support is a comprehensive research enablement program that helps new-to-research PCPs achieve Research Ready status and seamlessly conduct studies going forward. It helps with every part of setting up a site, including the above essentials, and only takes 8 weeks or less.  

Don’t settle for anything less than the best for your patients and your bottom line. Get in touch with us today to get started on your research as care journey.  


  1. Jerkins, M. Compensation Differences Between Primary Care & Specialty Physicians. Panacea Financial. Published 2023 April. 
  1. Ganguli, I., et al. Declining Use of Primary Care Among Commercially Insured Adults in the United States, 2008-2016. Ann Intern Med. Published 2020 Feb. 18.  
  1. How Clinical Research Skyrocketed Revenue for a Private GI Practice. Elligo Health Research. Published 2023 July.  

When you need direct access to physicians and their known patients or research practice management solutions to accelerate your clinical trials, there’s Only Elligo.

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