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Top 5 Items That Have Impacted Clinical Trial Research Technology

Internet

From telephone-based dial-up to cable modems to DSL to FIOS to T1 lines, the speed in which we access other computers and applications has changed the world.  The Internet has changed the way we communicate, shop, play games, and access information (remember phone books?).  Perhaps the largest impact to clinical trial research technology (we are now able to share data instantly); the Internet allows us to clean, review and make critical decisions earlier in the process, therefore improving clinical research.

Standards

I never met anyone who thought standards were a bad idea.  When zip codes were introduced in 1963, mail delivery times decreased.  When CDISC CDASH standards were introduced in 2008, build time for CRFs decreased. Standards have streamlined the way we setup databases, move data around, and submit data to the FDA.

Technology Acceptance

The use of the Internet has absolutely changed the field of clinical research, and not only because of the improved connection speeds and connectivity.  The increased adoption rate is simply because the population is more comfortable using computers, and entering data using computers. In the past, sites may have one or two personnel who were ‘computer savvy’ enough to login and enter data, browse websites, update documents, and view study calendars. These days, most personnel at the clinical study sites are comfortable using a computer, and some even insist on a using an electronic system over paper.

Clinical Research Technology Vendor ‘Leaders’

Functional outsourcing of clinical research services and technology makes sense and is here to stay.  As a result, several successful providers have risen to the top of the pack.  These ‘mega-vendors’ have successfully delivered for enough companies that it is now common to outsource data collection and hosting needs to one of these clinical research technology vendors.  I believe the days of hosting systems and software or having large in-house staff is in our rear-view mirror.

Narrowing of Back-end Database Vendors

In the past, there were many databases to choose from.  There was access, foxbase, filemaker, and a few others that are long gone.  Today, it all comes down to two players: Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle. I believe that the heavy use of these two databases have allowed us to speed up standardization of both collection and submission standards.

What do you believe will be the next five impacts to clinical research technology?

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