The State of Today’s Clinical Research Industry

April Schultz
May 18th, 2017

Over the past several years, the clinical research industry has continued to grow in size and complexity. The emergence of new technologies and advancements in care and treatments have increased both the efficiency and difficulty of clinical trial operations in today’s research landscape. With these advancements come new challenges, practices and concerns about the current and future state of clinical research.

To explore the influence of these challenges on common practices, Forte conducted a survey in June 2017 to learn more about the current state of the clinical research industry. Over 900 people from around the country participated in the survey and provided their thoughts on industry pain points, the influence of technology on trial operations, the outlook of current trends in research and more.

Based on survey results, it’s evident there is still a need to find advanced solutions to problems faced during the clinical trial process. However, the use of technology and performance metrics to enhance clinical trial operations has become increasingly standard practice. These practices have the potential to aid the industry’s understanding of research operations as a whole and lead to greater solutions and efficiencies in the years to come.

As we celebrate International Clinical Trials Day each year, it’s important to remember how far the research industry has come and the great potential for further improvement and growth. We’d like to thank all of our survey participants, and the clinical research community as a whole, for their time and dedication to finding and developing new treatments for patients.

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We surveyed over 900 clinical research professionals to better understand today’s industry challenges and identify the potential for greater efficiencies.

Breakdown of Participants

Type of organization

  • 37% Academic Medical Center
  • 06% Research Site/Department
  • 86% Health System
  • 54% Cancer Center
  • 54% Clinical Research Organization
  • 76% Community Hospital
  • 55% Other
  • 99% Sponsor
  • 22% Vendor
  • 11% ISN, SMO, TMOs

Participants by region

  • 90 participants are from the Northeast region

Top Pain Point Categories and Tasks

Given a list of 25 trial-related activities, survey participants indicated these tasks as the most significant pain points:

  • Finance and Budgeting: Maintaining positive cash flow and ensuring billing compliance.
  • Regulatory: Preparing for FDA investigations
  • Data Management: Duplicate data entry into systems
  • Clinical Research Coordination: Recruiting potential participants
  • Clinical Research Operations: Resource allocation, utilizing staff time efficiently and staff turnover

What is Used to Solve These Problems?

95.81% of participants indicated they are using technology for their clinical research operations. More than 85% of those participants use vendor solutions over homegrown or other solutions:

  • 99% of participants are using vendor solutions
  • 14% of participants are using homegrown solutions
  • 91% are using other solutions
  • 29% are using no solution

Is Data Used to Influence Research Operations?

65.73% of participants indicated they use performance metrics to inform decisions about operational improvements, somewhat or consistently.

  • 52% of participants indicated they somewhat use data to influence their research operations
  • 4% of participants indicated they do consistently use data to influence their research operations
  • 9% of participants indicated they do not use data to influence their research operations at all
  • 7% of participants indicated they don’t collect performance metrics

Does Using Metrics to Inform Decisions About Operations Influence Pain Felt When Conducting Tasks?

Responses indicate a correlation between the use of performance metrics to inform operational decisions and the amount of pain indicated for particular tasks. In general, those who consistently use metrics show a reduced amount of pain for the tasks below:

Maintaining Positive Cash Flow

  • 25% of participants who use metrics felt major pain
  • 75% of participants who don’t use metrics felt major pain

Ensuring Billing Compliance

  • 28% of participants who use metrics felt major pain
  • 72% of participants who don’t use metrics felt major pain

Preparing for FDA Investigations

  • 38% of participants who use metrics felt major pain
  • 62% of participants who don’t use metrics felt major pain

Entering Duplicate Data

  • 28% of participants who use metrics felt major pain
  • 72% of participants who don’t use metrics felt major pain

Recruiting Participants

  • 32% of participants who use metrics felt major pain
  • 68% of participants who don’t use metrics felt major pain

Allocating Resources

  • 28% of participants who use metrics felt major pain
  • 72% of participants who don’t use metrics felt major pain

Managing Staff Turnover

  • 26% of participants who use metrics felt major pain
  • 74% of participants who don’t use metrics felt major pain

Does Using Clinical Research Technology Influence Pain Felt When Conducting Tasks?

  • CTMS: On average, CTMS users reported the least amount of major to moderate pain conducting regulatory tasks.
  • EDC: On average, EDC users reported the least amount of major to moderate pain managing duplicate data entry into systems.
  • Protocol Calendars: On average, Protocol Calendar users reported the least amount of major to moderate pain conducting coordinator tasks.

What are you Optimistic About in Clinical Research?

A significant amount of participants showed enthusiasm for the future of technology in clinical research. Many were optimistic about the ways technology enhances connections with patients, advance care and treatment options, helping industry stakeholders collaborate to increase efficiencies in clinical trials. Most participants reported being optimistic about:

  • Technological advancements
  • The need for research
  • Industry growth
  • Patient centricity
  • Advancement of care and treatments
  • Innovation
  • Public perception
  • Drug development

Want more results?

Explore the clinical trial industry’s top challenges and hear what over 900 research professionals think of the state of clinical research today. Download our free eBook: State of the Clinical Research Industry Report.

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State of the Industry eBook

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2 Comments

2 thoughts on “The State of Today’s Clinical Research Industry

  1. do you anticipate adding technology that allows for modeling or statistical analysis of the data collected? I am not aware of reports of these kinds being available on the data I enter. It would be an interesting benefit if that were available

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