One Key to Choosing the Best eClinical Technology Vendor: Great Partners Keep It Simple

Clinical trials require a ton of people power. Further, many facets of clinical trials call for highly specialized help, whether that be process expertise or the ability to provide technology solutions. Few research sponsors and even CROs have teams in place that address every last need for a given trial. This is not to mention that clinical trials, in general, are becoming more complex every day with data coming from a nearly limitless number of sources and pressure to make trials more inclusive. All of these factors make finding expert partners critical to success.

When it comes to choosing technology partners, before you start crunching numbers and amending your study designs, you should ask yourself this: how easy is this technology to use? Whatever potential rewards a technology promises, like the ability to look for new endpoints, or the ability to analyze clinical data in real-time, etc., you won’t get the value you are looking for if the technology is too difficult for your users to manage.

Easy for Sites

Clinical trial site team members are very busy people. They already have to interact with multiple different types of software and other tools to do their jobs. When technology is unintuitive, or doesn’t play well with other systems, site coordinators will likely not use it, choosing to find some sort of workaround or reverting to older practices that they are more comfortable with. When a new technology is introduced, then, it must be as intuitive and unobtrusive as possible. Adopting technology that allows users to jump in and learn, with relative ease, their own way around the system can make training go much smoother and more quickly. This is especially important if the new technology is a major change, such as switching to a new electronic data capture (EDC) system or similar foundational technology. Site teams can be hard to win over, so the easier the technology is to use, the more likely you are to see a smooth transition and the sooner you will begin to realize the benefits of the new technology you are investing in.

Easy for Patients

An increasing number of clinical trial designs depend on, at least some, active input from the patients participating in the studies. This may include remote data collection such as eConsent and eCOA (electronic clinical outcome assessments) which can be submitted through smart device or web-based software, or data from wearable medical devices. There is no way to know how technologically savvy a given patient will be. Additionally, a given patient’s health conditions may make certain tasks more difficult, like if their vision is impaired or if they have neurological challenges. 

This means that patients need tech tools that provide a simple, stress-free experience. When looking at technology vendors, then, you have to consider whether or not their solutions do an adequate job of acknowledging the patient experience. If you have a clinical trial that is largely decentralized, you simply cannot afford to use technologies that frustrate patients. This can lead to dropouts and you will need to absorb the cost of lengthened study timelines as you seek out new patients and likely end up switching technology vendors anyway.

Easy for Sponsors

We’ve addressed site teams and patients, but whatever technology you choose, it needs to also be as easy to use as possible for the sponsor. You know things need to work well and simply for external users, but how can you take control to make sure that happens? The best technology partners are building solutions that help you address challenges on your own. Yes, they are there with comprehensive training and support services when needed, but the best partners give you the ability to take charge of your eClinical solutions. This means you can jump in and design studies with your users’ experiences in mind. Partners that offer low-code or no-code software means you don’t need a lot of coding ability to customize your studies or easily make changes over the course of a trial. Look also for partners that provide an Open API (application programming interface). This open architecture helps to ensure that any new technologies you add work well with those you already have in place. It’s your study and your data, so look for partners that don’t need to insert themselves (at a price) into your data collection and data management strategies any more than necessary.

Clinical trials are not simple. Yet there are technologies and people behind those solutions that understand how to make the complexities of data collection and management easier for all stakeholders. When looking at new technology partners, it can be helpful to view them based on how much thought and care they’ve spent in considering your users’ experiences. Better user experiences, after all, will lead to better, more consistent data collection and higher data quality.

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