Two key selling points of clinical trial management systems (CTMS) are improved organizational efficiency and increased visibility into your research portfolio. When a CTMS is brought into an organization using an EMR system, integrating the two systems can bring a host of benefits that allow the systems to be greater than the sum of their parts.
The Benefits of CTMS/EMR Integration
Elimination of Duplicate Data Entry
Integrating CTMS and EMR can eliminate duplicate data entry (and the potential errors that come with it) and streamline your organization’s workflow, bringing immediate benefits to both the quality of your data and your operational costs.
Improved Patient Care
Whether a clinical research subject comes in for a routine appointment with a physician or makes an unexpected visit to the emergency room, quick access to his or her clinical trial information is imperative. Integration between its CTMS and EMR allows an organization to flag trial subjects and have critical study information immediately relayed from the CTMS to the EMR.
Increased Awareness for Research Staff
Likewise, integrated systems can also keep research staff aware of important events in trial subjects’ treatment. Triggers can be set up to notify PIs and coordinators immediately when subjects arrive for unexpected visits to their physician or to the ER.
The simplification of clinical trial billing can improve billing compliance and eliminate headaches. In advanced CTMS systems such as Forte’s OnCore Enterprise Research, staff can indicate procedure billing designations, which are then sent to the EMR system to determine how to route charges.
Tips for Integration
Managing the integration of these two complex systems is not without its challenges. However, by devoting a small amount of time to education, planning and organization at the beginning of your journey, you can ensure an efficient and successful integration. Here are a few quick tips for getting started.
Choosing a CTMS
Choosing a CTMS that fits your organization is crucial. It’s important to pick a system that not only fits your needs now, but also has a track record of evolving with customers in order to meet your future goals. Here are some key questions to ask early in the decision-making process:
- How has the proposed CTMS vendor contributed to its clients’ success and what are its plans are for the future?
- Does the vendor have clients similar to your organization?
- Has the vendor assisted those clients with CTMS/EMR integration?
- Do they have an established training program in place?
- Is there a user community built around the product that will allow you to collaborate with your peers?
- What else can the vendor do to ensure the successful adoption and continued success of your organization?
Forming a Team
Your project team is essential to a successful integration. The CTMS vendor should have detailed documentation that explains the core needs for CTMS/EMR integration. As mentioned earlier, a vendor’s past experience with system integration can be extremely valuable. And, because the integration can involve significant contributions from several teams within your organization, it’s crucial that everyone involved in the integration is on board with the process. Make sure that contributors’ roles are clearly assigned and they know what is expected of them.
Avoiding Scope Creep
Once your team is in place, roles have been defined and the project has been scoped, you should take steps to ensure that the project is carried out as defined. While avoiding scope creep (unrestrained changes or growth in a project’s scope) entirely may not be possible, a solid understanding of the project by all stakeholders is crucial. Project deliverables should be broken into real work requirements, and timelines should be agreed on and prioritized by the team. As with any technical project, once the scope begins to change, the integration may be difficult to contain. A solid team and a well-defined plan are key to a successful integration.
Interested in hearing Forte’s customers share their CTMS/EMR integration experience? Check out our webinar, “Integrating a Research Management System & EMR: Motivations and Benefits”.