The State of Technology in Clinical Research

April Schultz
August 10th, 2018

The clinical research industry has always had a complicated relationship with technology. Over the years, we’ve taken great strides to improve study practices thanks to advancements in research systems built to streamline study processes for clinical trial management, data management, research administration and more. These systems have the potential to improve research operations and enable greater efficiencies across the industry as a whole. On the other hand, industry stakeholders still struggle to embrace new technologies fast enough to both meet the needs of modern study participants and adapt to the growing complexity of clinical trials.

In an effort to better understand the role of technology in today’s research industry and what influences the success of systems at research organizations, we conducted a survey of clinical research professionals in the spring of 2018. During the surveywe explored the industry’s relationship with technology to discover what efficiencies have already been created and where there is potential for greater improvement.

Based on survey results, it’s clear that technology is a key part of how we conduct clinical research today and is largely considered to have a positive influence. However, trends indicate the amount of training, experience using the system and additional factors may impact an individual’s perception of the system. 

Take a look at the infographic below to learn what survey participants had to say about the impact of technology on their individual and organizational practices.

state of technology in clinical research infographic

Text Version

We surveyed 826 clinical research professionals to better understand the role of technology in today’s research industry and what influences the success of systems at research organizations.

Of those 826 responses, 619 were analyzed. Such analysis revealed trends in how these systems impact current practices and clinical trial conduct.

Participant Demographics

The breakdown of the 826 participants in the study include:

  • 30.2% Academic Medical Center
  • 23.6% Research Site/Department
  • 11.5% Cancer Center
  • 9.2% Clinical Research Organization
  • 8.7% Health System
  • 6.6% Community Hospital
  • 4.5% Other
  • 3.6% Sponsor
  • 1.3% Vendor
  • 0.8% ISN, SMO, TMOs

The primary type of research these individuals contribute to include:

  • 10.7% Observational
  • 78.7% Interventional
  • 3.2% Biospecimen
  • 7.4% Other

Use of Technology

What technology systems are used for clinical research? Given a list of 11 commonly used systems, survey respondents were asked to select which of the systems they use for clinical research. On average, respondents indicated they use five or more different systems for clinical research.

Of the 11 systems, the majority of respondents indicated they use one or more of these four systems.

The top four most commonly used systems were:

  • 86.8% Electronic Data Capture (EDC)
  • 66.7% Registration Systems/IVRS
  • 63.3% Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS)
  • 59.3% eIRB

For these top four systems, we asked how long participants have used the system. For each of the top four most commonly used systems, the majority of respondents noted more than five years of experience. The breakdown for each system was:

  • For EDC, 70.8% of respondents have used the system for 5+ years and 27.5% have used an EDC between 0-5 years.
  • For Registration Systems / IVRS, 69.2% have used the system for 5+ years and 27.3% have used it between 0-5 years.
  • For CTMS, 56.8% have used the system for 5+ years and 42.8% have used it between 0-5 years.
  • For eIRBs, 43.6% have used the system for 5+ years and 49.3% have used it between 0-5 years.

Technology Training

We asked participants what their system training looked like. Survey respondents were asked to indicate the degree of training they received for the systems they selected. The table below shows the degree of training among systems users for each of the top four most commonly used systems.

  EDC Registration Systems / IVRS CTMS eIRB
Extensive training 43.2% 35.4% 30.4% 21.5%
Moderate amount of training 35.6% 28.3% 40.3% 28.6%
Small amount of training  14.3% 21.4% 26.0% 26.7%
No training 3.5% 6.8% 2.8% 13.6%
No answer 3.0% 3.1% none 8.7%
Not applicable 0.4% 0.7% 0.5% 0.8%

 

While not correlative, data patterns indicate the degree of training on a system may impact how comfortable a respondent feels using that system. This trend implies the level of comfort increases as degree of training increases.

Perception of Technology

Do systems influence productivity? While it’s clear many respondents have used technology systems for a significant amount of time, we wanted to dive deeper into whether or not those systems are perceived to have a positive or negative impact on day-to-day workflows.

For each of the top four systems, we found the positive, negative or no influence on productivity:

  • For EDC, 65% of respondents experienced a positive influence, 14.3% experienced no influence and 5.3% experienced a negative influence.
  • For Registration Systems / IVRS, 53% of respondents experienced a positive influence, 26.2% experienced no influence and 2.9% experienced a negative influence.
  • For CTMS, 61% of respondents experienced a positive influence, 26.2% respondents experienced no influence and 2.9% experienced a negative influence.
  • For eIRB, 58.3% of respondents experienced a positive influence, 18.8% experienced no influence and 3.8% experienced a negative influence.

The majority of respondents using systems for clinical research indicated those systems have a positive impact on their productivity.

Do systems influence clinical trial conduct? In addition to system influence on productivity, survey respondents indicated whether or not the systems they selected have a positive or negative impact on clinical trial conduct at their organization.

  • For EDC 74.1% said it positively impacts conduct, 10.8% responded no impact, 3.7% said it negatively impacts conduct and 8.6% didn’t respond.
  • For Registration Systems / IVRS 63.4% said it positively impacts conduct, 121.1% responded no impact, 1.2% said it negatively impacts conduct and 9% didn’t respond.
  • For CTMS 73% said it positively impacts conduct, 10.5% responded no impact, 4.6% said it negatively impacts conduct, 11.2% didn’t respond and 0.8% indicated it wasn’t applicable.
  • For eIRB 63.4% said it positively impacts conduct, 14.7% responded no impact, 3.8% said it negatively impacts conduct, 11.2% didn’t respond and 9.3% indicated it wasn’t applicable.

In general, respondents who indicated systems positively influence their productivity also indicated systems positively impact clinical trial conduct at their organization.

Download the State of Technology in Clinical Research report to learn more key factors influencing the success of technology at research organizations and gain insights into the necessary steps to see more value from your research systems.