• Sustainability
  • DE&I
  • Pandemic
  • Finance
  • Legal
  • Technology
  • Regulatory
  • Global
  • Pricing
  • Strategy
  • R&D/Clinical Trials
  • Opinion
  • Executive Roundtable
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Executive Profiles
  • Leadership
  • Market Access
  • Patient Engagement
  • Supply Chain
  • Industry Trends

Eyeing Efficiency for All

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive: March 2024
Volume 44
Issue 3

Paige Bingham has focused her career on improving clinical research operations and logistics, and not just ways to ease the burden for investigators and teams running the trials—but also for the patients involved in them.

Paige Bingham, CEO of Scout, formerly Meeting Protocol Worldwide

Paige Bingham, CEO of Scout, formerly Meeting Protocol Worldwide

Paige Bingham has seen a lot of changes to clinical trials through her nearly three decades in the biopharmaceutical industry, and her focus on equal parts efficiency and empathy set her apart.

It helps that for Bingham, the work truly is personal. Bingham’s mother founded Meeting Protocol Worldwide (MPW) in Dallas, TX, when she was a 52-year-old widow. Four years later, business was booming, and Bingham, now CEO, initially joined MPW’s ranks to help open the company’s office in London.

“For the first 21 years of its existence, Meeting Protocol purely organized meetings for the life sciences, mostly on the research and development side—so think clinical investigator meetings and advisory board meetings, those sorts of things,” Bingham tells Pharmaceutical Executive. Since then, Bingham spent her 25 years (and counting) at MPW improving clinical trials for patients, coordinators, investigators, and sites alike.

MPW expanded its horizons after several clients requested that the company help organize internal meetings, leadership retreats, sales meetings, product launches, and incentive trips. The organization further expanded its scope with the launch of Atlas Clinical Academy, which Bingham describes as “an offshoot of Meeting Protocol.” Like other models, Atlas came from a client request.

A client asked us if there was a way to record their investigators’ meeting—to digitize it and break it up into chapters and modules, so that throughout the life of the study, additional study team personnel can access that training,” she explains. “Then that grew into its own standalone learning management—a study communication repository, if you will.”

MPW’s innovation didn’t end there: As clients’ needs changed, so did their responses. About eight years ago, one of MPW’s contract research organization (CRO) partners asked Bingham if she and the MPW team ever considered organizing patient travel as part of their model. While it had never occurred to Bingham before, the partner’s words stuck in her head: They didn’t have one figure who could do everything they wanted everywhere that they needed globally. Since Bingham and her team already knew the logistics of moving people around the world for investigator meetings, as well as understanding payments (including honoraria and reimbursements), and working within the life sciences sphere, they could likely extend their quality service to patients.

“I like to say that we naively thought, ‘How much harder can it be to move patients than it is to move investigators?’” recalls Bingham. “And then we probably spent the next almost three years really fine-tuning and becoming experts in the regulatory side, which we had really never had exposure to before. So we created our Scout Clinical division, which is patient services.”

(Note: This interview took place prior to MPW’s complete rebrand under the new name of Scout, which launched in January; for more details, see here and here.)

MPW’s Scout Clinical division includes all forms of travel, says Bingham: “Everything from the high end and what you would think of that concierge, white-glove service for rare disease—moving an entire family from one country to another for an extended period of time,” she notes.

It’s Bingham’s empathy and thoughtfulness that helps ensure no stone is unturned for patient travel, including the proverbial stones many would forget to even consider. The company handles everything from visas, health insurance, and apartment leases as “concierge activities,” says Bingham, as well as aiding with smaller-scale transportation, such as, for example, booking a taxi for somebody in Spain to get from their home on one side of town to the other side of town.

Scout also manages payments, including stipends and reimbursements, as well as data-driven payments, which Bingham says works wonders for patient retention. “We’re doing a lot with vaccine studies,” she adds. “We really touch across all the therapeutic areas.”


In terms of what makes transporting patients to clinical trials more challenging and unique compared to the other types of logistics Bingham and her team deal with in other divisions, it’s the degree of what she says is understandable risk aversion for patient health and also financially—especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed a lot of long-standing issues with how clinical trials were typically run for decades.

“You’re dealing with people’s lives, their health and wellbeing, so they need to be very cautious,” she tells Pharm Exec. “They’re not early adopters. It’s that change of mindset, which really COVID has escalated—those first six, nine, 12 months when things were really shut down. It became very difficult for patients to get to the clinic, and these studies, these trials, have to keep going.”

Public transportation wasn’t an option much of the time, with many people in some countries and areas not having access to it at all, and private transportation posed its own challenges in terms of costs for many patients, especially those who were ill and out of work.

“Waiting to get reimbursed for a lot of patients who are really sick and maybe can’t work, waiting even just for that $20 or $30 taxi reimbursement is financially prohibitive for them,” says Bingham. COVID brought patients’ financial concerns to the forefront for many companies in terms of clinical trials, and Scout works to ease those burdens for both sides.

“It is a great way to remove those financial and logistic barriers for patients,” notes Bingham. “We’re seeing the return on that investment by making it easier for patients to stay in a clinical trial. Sometimes it can be the difference between whether a person chooses to even go into a clinical trial. If they know that the travel and the financial burden is going to be taken care of for them, they’re more apt to sign up for the trial than if they don’t know that going into it.”

According to Bingham, making clinical trials a “financially neutral event” means that more patients can participate, which, in turn, means the trials will likely have more accurate and diverse results.

“Sponsors just are really realizing how that pays off,” she says. “That then plays into patient centricity that everybody’s really been focusing on, and justifiably so for years—but now this other little piece of it, COVID exposed the weaknesses in that process.”


The global focus of MPW employs itself two-fold: It represents the company’s worldwide reach, as well as its ability to adapt to different cultural norms, customs, needs, and sensitivities in various markets and countries. Bingham says MPW prides itself on tailoring its work around the needs of each sponsor and patient, as well as literally meeting them where they are.

“We build our services around the needs of each particular constituent not only on the sponsor level, but then at the trial level, then at the country level, and definitely at the site level,” she says. “The sites have a lot of different preferences on how they want to work, and then at the patient level as well. Going back to the country level, there are things that we can do, for instance, in the US that legally we can’t do in, say, China or Russia, or culturally just maybe isn’t accepted in an emerging market.”

Bingham says that the Scout team had a quick learning curve and knew that adaptability and flexibility, including in payment options, were some of the biggest keys to its success in terms of patient transportation.

“We knew after about the second or third study to build a lot of flexibility and adaptability into the DNA for Scout,” she says. “Everything that we’re doing, including our portal—that the sites, the patients, and the sponsors access—we wanted to be able to offer that flexibility and that adaptability, but at a price point that makes it easy for sponsors to utilize our services. It’s not more expensive for us to be able to offer patients multiple forms of payments, for example, that they can choose from on a payment-by-payment basis.”

Bingham, for instance, notes that patients may want to start off using the company’s ScoutPass, which is a reloadable debit card, and then following a study visit or two, decide to switch to an electronic funds transfer to their bank account.

“Then visit six, they may decide they would really rather have a check for whatever reason, or pay it into their PayPal or their Venmo,” says Bingham. “There’s no additional cost for the sponsor to have that flexibility for the patients.”

Bingham’s goal through MPW as a whole, and especially through its clinical division, is ultimately to make everyone’s jobs and lives easier in all aspects of clinical trials, from coordinators and investigators to vendors, and to enable more patients to participate in studies without any undue hardship. One way the company is furthering its efforts is by developing its own app, which will launch this year.

According to Bingham, the app has a key single sign-on feature that will bring relief to a lot of individuals and teams working on all sides of clinical trials—including coordinators, investigators, CEOs, vendors, sites, and patients—because log-in fatigue is universal.

“What we’re focusing on a lot is to try to make it as frictionless as possible,” she tells Pharm Exec. That applies not just to patients, but also for sites, to utilize Scout’s services to ease their own difficulties. “We hear their concerns and the issues that they’re having with being understaffed and overburdened, and all the tech that is being thrown at them from every single sponsor,” says Bingham. “Every single study has multiple forms of technology, and so things like a single sign-on that can just make it that much easier for them to sign on once to access multiple platforms [are beneficial]. We’re really just trying to make it incrementally a little bit easier for the sites as well as for the patients.”

The single sign-on is still a work in progress, but it’s also a major labor of love for MPW.

“I understand why it hasn’t happened,” says Bingham. “But wouldn’t it be wonderful if all these pieces of technology that we’re asking the sites to use for these studies could all talk to each other much more seamlessly so that the sites aren’t having to enter the same piece of data and information into 20 different systems? We’re not there yet—we’re not the electronic data capture (EDC), we’re not the clinical trial management system (CTMS), so it’s harder. We’re more downstream from it, but we would love to be able to more easily integrate into those systems to make it easier. I think everybody would love that. We’re not there yet for a variety of reasons, but one can hope.”

Bingham has continually embraced new technology throughout her years at MPW to support the changing needs of her clients in all spaces, and it’s paid off across the various components of clinical trials.

“When we started it just on the meeting side, we had actual 35-millimeter slides and people would bring their little carousel,” recalls Bingham. “We used to have to fax the invitations to the people who would be attending our meetings.” Not surprisingly, eventually switching to PowerPoint and email as standard models provided a world of difference in efficiency and effectiveness.


Technology and logistics aside, Bingham believes that MPW, throughout its history, has helped usher in an increased focus on compassion and humanity in clinical trials, something that wasn’t necessarily prioritized before, she contends. This is especially true in the case of patients with rare diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions requiring constant care.

“We’re talking about the impact on the caregiver, and making sure that the caregiver is getting not just the logistic and financial assistance they need, but some of our forward-looking sponsors are thinking about the mental healthcare of the caregiver,” she says. “That’s a huge burden—when you have a child with a rare disease or a loved one who is going through Alzheimer’s. It’s fantastic to see those sponsors thinking about that and incorporating that into their protocol and study design.

“There is much more focus—and correctly so—on the patients than when I first started this,” Bingham continues. “Nobody was talking about the patient journey, about the patient burden [before]. Now, we’re focusing on the human impact of clinical trials.”

Note: Under MPW’s rebrand as Scout, the Meeting Protocol, Scout Clinical, and Atlas Clinical Academy services are now known, respectively, as Scout Meetings, Scout Clinical, and Scout Academy.

Jessica Sager is a freelance writer and editor with focuses on culture, lifestyle, and health. Her bylines can be found in Parade, PEOPLE, Seventeen, Redbook, Shape, The New York Post, and more. She is based in New Jersey.

Related Content