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The Role of Technology in Clinical Trials

In the past 20 years or so, technology has improved significantly-- to the point where it is practically the center of our lives. Whether it is our phones, or our computers, technology has taken over what we do in our day to day. As a result, it is no surprise so many fields of study have adapted to this advance in technology. Slowly, more and more pen-and-paper processes are shifting to the electronic approach. Many, however, remain in the old-school method. Areas like clinical research are reluctant to change and stick to pen-and-paper, saying the new methods are time consuming and more expensive since they require larger teams and tend to cover greater audiences.


There are many problems, however, with paper-based data capture. For instance, given that the data gathered by researchers is very large, since they must cover sufficient samples for it to be statistically viable and appropriate to analyze, the work and time they spend transcribing these is also huge. This is the major difficulty that comes the analog way. Furthermore, with paper CRFs it becomes overwhelming to check for data accuracy in so many physical sheets. This makes EDC tools much more advantageous and makes these results more manageable. In addition, the time spent learning the software is not much compared to the time researchers spend trying to work with analog data. Less time spent equals to less money spent overall, making EDC a better option.

Researchers' opinions on EDC vs. paper CRFs

Other researchers have replaced EDC softwares with regular spreadsheets. This option is still much better than paper surveys, but presented against EDC they still remain insufficient. A study conducted by the Harvard Medical School suggests regular spreadsheets are slower than web-based electronic data capture. EDC softwares are clearly a better option, it’s what they are for. According to the “Pros and Cons of EDC” by Rebecca Kush It cuts the “timeline from 4-8 weeks to a matter of hours” and reduce data by 70%-80%.(1) Web-based EDC were the first, but they have gradually evolved to phone applications as well. While the web-based version is the most popular, mobile applications are quickly taking over, given their easy accessibility and user-friendly interface.(3)

Technology has helped improve many aspects of our lives, and the research fields are not far behind. Although many researchers keep using paper-based method data collection for their studies, the great majority have appreciated the benefits of electronically-based methods, such as efficiency, and less money spent overall. EDC tools have proven their superiority and are taking the lead in the field.

Sources

  1. https://www.cdisc.org/system/files/all/reference_material/application/pdf/bei26kushsup.pdf
  2. https://www.worldwide.com/blog/2017/04/electronic-data-capture-early-phase-clinical-research-still-unlikely-pair/
  3. http://www.jmir.org/2016/6/e141/
  4. https://trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13063-016-1674-9
  5. http://www.appliedclinicaltrialsonline.com/ecoa-and-epro-provide-accuracy-data-capture
  6. https://www.slideshare.net/crystalhuntergtcbio/the-expanding-eclinical-universe-streamlining-progress-by-changing-current-work-processes-and-moving-away-from-paper-alan-s-louie-phd-research-director-idc-health-insights
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Connie Cornejo

Marketing Manager at Teamscope

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