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Launch of new research costing tool for life sciences industry

The NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) has launched a new and improved, web-based interactive Costing Tool (iCT) - which supersedes the Excel-based version of the industry costing templates.

The new online costing tool will enable faster costing and contracting between the life sciences industry and the NHS as part of the study set-up phase - providing an accessible solution to improve set-up times by reducing the time for cost negotiation

The new system is now available for use by representatives from the life sciences industry and the NHS as a module within the NIHR Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS).  

The CPMS-based system brings major improvements on the previous Excel version of the costing template, including:

  • User interface and usability: With a simple layout, the new iCT is a fully automated costing solution - accessible within CPMS. It no longer involving any manual steps from users
  • Reliability: Updates or changes to the new system are now a seamless process, improving system reliability
  • Compatibility: The new iCT works on any computer - overcoming software compatibility issues inherent to the Excel-based version of the tool
  • Improved audit functionality: The new app contains a central log of all adjustments made as part of the contract negotiation process - enabling NIHR to further streamline processes by identifying any issues or delays in commercial study costing
  • Visibility: The new iCT enables resource requirements determined at a site level to be shared with others involved in the study directly within the system, avoiding duplication

About the iCT

The iCT identifies resources required to deliver each specific study in the NHS (including NHS trusts, primary care organisations and specialist research locations like Clinical Research Facilities), to which a standardised costing methodology is applied. Ultimately, the iCT provides a price estimate for the commercial company to run their study in the NHS.  A negotiation follows with each participating site until both parties reach an agreement, which is then included in the site contract to undertake the study.

New National Contract Value Review

Use of the iCT underpins roll-out of the new National Contract Value Review (or single contract review) process for commercial contract research studies. The first phase of implementation is now underway, with multiple volunteer national coordinators from participating sites conducting an enhanced validation on a single study.

Guidance on using the new iCT

What is initially needed to use the system?

  1. All users of iCT in CPMS will require CPMS access which is available via individual or group email addresses (multiple uses of the same group login can be used via an ‘incognito’ or ‘private’ browser window.
  2. All users without current access will need to follow the ‘Create an Account’ button on the CPMS homepage.
  3. Access to the training videos and downloadable documentation on the NIHR website. It is suggested that all users of iCT in CPMS view all of the instructional videos as they clearly link the various stages of iCT completion as it moves through the CPMS system.
  4. A copy of the study protocol.

Documentation available on the NIHR website (including tutorial videos, good practice guides and offline tariffs)

  1. Link for all supporting documentation
  2. FAQ
  3. National Tariff workbooks:
    Interventions and Investigations

Where does the data come from:

  • Review of the site Market Forces Factor by NHS England annually
  • Annual salaries from NHS Employers including prospective uplifts
  • Apprenticeship Levy from NHS Employers 0.5%PA for all NHS gross pay costs
  • Investigation cost baselining via Specialist Working Groups at senior institute Level (e.g. Royal College of Pathology, Royal Institute of Ophthalmology)
  • NHS Inflator value from NHS England used to inflate investigation costs on an annual basis

What happens when we go ‘live’?

General Support exists within the NIHR CRN Coordinating Centre from

Local Network Support exists with the current Industry Single Point of Contact groups.

Additional support for first 12 month roll-out will be represented by monthly 1:1 surgeries for the life sciences industry, monthly LCRN industry teams Google Hangouts, and site 1:1 surgeries which will be advertised in due course. These surgeries will be chaired by the NIHR's Study Start Up Manager and will contribute to both additional FAQs and backlog development for future potential changes to CPMS alongside general problem-solving. Data outputs from iCT will also be reviewed in quarterly retrospectives in order to assess the impact of iCT and its development as a tool into the future.

Find out more

Visit our industry costing page.