Key stakeholders in the biopharmaceutical industry are becoming more geographically dispersed as the clinical trial market expands and globalizes, resulting in an increased likelihood for miscommunication.

At Elligo, our patient travel team specializes in clinical-trial travel coordination, having pioneered their way past cross-cultural communication barriers while working with clients overseas. As a global leader in clinical trial support, Elligo removes the burden of communicating with international stakeholders from sites and sponsors, allowing them to focus on what matters most—the patient. We do this by embarking on a journey to effective cross-cultural communication with each one of our clients abroad. We map out logistical and cultural differences, adapt our approach and method of communication, and utilize the tools and resources available to us in order to navigate our way around the “New World” of clinical trials. 

Meghan MacDonald, Travel Coordinator at Elligo, is often faced with the task of coordinating international travel for patients abroad. Meghan notes “on average our overseas contacts are six hours ahead of us, so we only have a small window of time in the morning that we’re able to get a same-day response, which can be challenging in urgent or last-minute travel requests.” By plotting out the time zones of her patients and taking logistical differences into consideration, Meghan can allocate the first part of her day for tasks pertaining to her international clients. Additionally, by offering an after hours service for urgent travel requests, Elligo is able to steer away from potential roadblocks on the path to effective cross-cultural communication. 

Once logistical differences have been traversed, the next stop on our journey is engaging in conversation with the patients, sites, or sponsors. As a general rule, we do our best to communicate clearly, concisely, and consistently. It’s important to speak slowly and to avoid slang, colloquialisms and abbreviations as these are often lost in translation. Nicole Elphic, Director of Patient Retention and Patient Travel at Elligo, emphasizes the importance of recapping every phone call in writing and sending follow-up emails containing only the essential information. Additionally, she suggests creating resources and visual aids, such as demo videos, in order to support the comprehension of our material. While Elligo has the ability to create custom resources to meet the needs of our clients internally, we also utilize external tools to communicate effectively and provide exceptional customer service to our clients abroad. For us, translation technology is practically the modern day sextant, as it’s necessary to navigate communication with our clients abroad. Additionally, Elligo is fortunate to have a few individuals in our organization who can communicate with our clients in their native languages. In some cases, we may also consider the service of a professional translator/interpreter.

The most important takeaway on this voyage is taking the time to invest in the client by understanding their culture, adapting to their needs, and utilizing resources and tools to get clients from Point A to Point B. Once stakeholders have figured out how to navigate their way to effective cross-cultural communication, they may not discover the holy grail, but they will find themselves preserving patient retention rates and supporting study completion in the new world of clinical trials.

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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