Examining the Impact and Solutions to Extremely Delayed Site Payments from Sponsors

Anna Hrovat-Staedter
November 30th, 2017

Why do we need to improve the payment process between sites and sponsors?

Many clinical research sites cannot afford to finance the cost of conducting clinical studies for the months that it takes to collect payment from most study sponsors and CROs.

Invoicing to and tracking payments from sponsors recorded the second highest proportion of people reporting major pain across 25 research operations tasks, while maintaining positive cash flow recorded the fourth highest proportion.1 According to a report by the Society of Clinical Researchers, 66% of sites say they have less than three months operating cash on hand.2 Lastly, a 2010 Research Study indicated research sites carry a debt-load of almost $400,000.3 These operational hurdles are not unique throughout the industry, and many sites and sponsors do not know how to reduce these challenges.

What is an extreme site payment delay?

In the Spring of 2017, Forte partnered with MAGI to perform an analysis on the state of the industry as it relates to site payments and to honor and recognize sponsors and CROs that pay sites promptly. Forte’s site customers contributed data for hundreds of studies across 142 sponsors and CROs with nearly 32,000 payment records. Based on this analysis, an extreme payment delay was defined as ‘a payment received 180 days or more after the negotiated timeline between the site and sponsor or CRO.’

infographic extreme clinical trial site payment delays


Based on feedback and survey results from both sites and sponsors, it is clear there is still progress to be made to ensure sites are paid promptly and sponsors are motivated to pay sites in a timely manner. Conversations such as this, and those discussed through the MAGI Awards for Site Payments, keep all stakeholders moving toward solutions.

Learn more about solutions and tactics for site sponsor communications and financial planning:

Explore Forte Insights to learn about the Sponsor Invoicing Dashboard, a financial dashboard that captures the state of your invoices to help in assessing and reducing invoice payment turnaround time.

Appreciate being paid on time? Your study participants do too! Check out Forte Participant Payments to explore a simple and participant-centric solution for patient reimbursements.


  1. https://go.forteresearch.com/state-of-the-clinical-research-industry-report-2017 
  2. http://www.appliedclinicaltrialsonline.com/aligning-data-entry-and-site-payment-incentives-clinical-trials-and-patients
  3. http://www.appliedclinicaltrialsonline.com/chasing-veteran-us-sites-out-enterprise