NextUp: The Local Company Making Clinical Trials More Accessible

With automated payment technology and a partnership with Lyft, Greenphire is making it easier to enroll and get paid for participating in clinical trials.

Jim Murphy is the chief executive officer at Greenphire. The company, based in King of Prussia, provides tech solutions that improve clinical trial enrollment and retention. / Courtesy photo

“NextUp” is a weekly NextHealth PHL feature that highlights the local leaders, organizations and research shaping the Greater Philadelphia region’s life sciences ecosystem. Email with pitches for NextUp.

Who: Greenphire was founded in 2008 by Jennifer Peters, John Samar, and Samuel Whitaker. The three co-founders used their unique combination of experience in financial technology and electronic medical record (EMR) management to create new tech solutions that would address the many business administrative challenges in clinical research. The company’s initial solutions were aimed at problems experienced by specific clinical sites. Over the past ten years, Greenphire’s solutions have expanded upstream and downstream in the clinical process to address a range of issues from payments to transportation and travel.

What: Greenphire’s ClinCard system provides research sites with reloadable debit cards that allow funds to be loaded on to the card in real-time. The ClinCard web portal maintains a secure history of payments and allows site coordinators to send messages and reminders to participants to keep them engaged for the duration of the trial. ClinCard is available globally with both prepaid card and direct deposit options, and enables site coordinators to issue payments in a participant’s local currency. Site managers can also use the ClinCard software to aggregate payment data, transactional history, program balance, study budget, card inventory, 1099 IRS tax reporting and more — a feature that comes in handy for reporting to trial sponsors.

Greenphire’s ClinCard allows clinical trial sites to offer payments to trial participants via a reloadable debit card.

When: In June 2018, Greenphire partnered with rideshare company Lyft, which enabled clinical research sites to seamlessly book rides for study participants via the ClinCard web portal and removed the burden of travel arrangement and costs from the participant.

The service has worked well for Midlantic Urology. The urology practice has 46 locations throughout the state and manages anywhere from 25 to 45 clinical trials at any given time. Prior to adopting Greenphire’s rideshare service, Midlantic Urology’s director of clinical research Cheryl Zinar says the group temporarily paid a retiree to transport patients from their homes to the clinical trial site in Bala Cynwyd.

“He could only drive one patient a day and we were paying roughly $150 per ride. It was not an ideal situation,” Zinar said.

“Not everyone wanted to drive here, so we were losing patients who lived far from our site. Our doctors would talk to patients and get them all excited about participating, but when they’d tell them they’d have to come all the way to Bala Cynwyd, they sometimes lost interest in making that commute.”

Greenphire’s rideshare service through Lyft allows Midlantic Urology to schedule rides for participants to get to and from its clinical trial site. Zinar says, “It’s given us many more patients who participate now.”

In May 2019, Greenphire celebrated its eleventh year in business. The company’s software is now being used by clinical trial sites in more than 70 countries. The company also supports clinical trials for several universities in the region, including the University of Pennsylvania.

Why: Researchers often have difficulty enrolling and retaining participants in clinical trials. Besides needing participants who fit specific medical criteria, research sites also have to ensure study participants are able to get to the site where the trial is being hosted and that they’ll continue coming back, as needed, for the duration of the trial. Many research sites offer to compensate participants, but research payments are often a big headache for both the participant and the host. Historically, research payments were made via cash or check from the research site to the participant, a process that was not always convenient or safe, according to Greenphire product manager Zach Hales.

“If a participant doesn’t have a bank account, they have to go somewhere else to cash it and probably pay a fee, which is not ideal. It can be very risky for research sites to have a ton of cash on site and to have to worry about the risk of that being stolen or the burden of a patient potentially losing their cash,” Hales explained.

“We have the ability for site coordinators to click a button, assign a card to the patient and have money loaded on the card immediately so a patient can use it immediately. Getting paid on time makes them feel good about what they’re doing and keeps them engaged in the process.”

What It Means: Greenphire’s chief executive officer Jim Murphy estimates more than 80 percent of studies either fail to enroll or retain enough patients. With its easy-to-use software and convenient payment and travel services, Greenphire could set a new standard for clinical trial management and success.