New CRO-focused report indicates shift towards modernization of clinical trials

19 November 2018

GMP News

Contract research organizations (CROs) are driving industrywide momentum to unify clinical systems and streamline trial processes, according to a new global industry survey from Veeva Systems, a cloud-computing company focused on pharmaceutical and life sciences industry applications.

According to the annual report, CROs continue to lead the adoption of modern clinical applications to increase operational efficiency, simplify trial collaboration, and improve study quality.

The report reveals that CROs lead sponsors in adopting purpose-built clinical applications, particularly in study start-up (33% of CROs vs. 17% of sponsors) and clinical trial management systems (CTMS) (66% vs. 54%). This momentum is consistent with organizations’ focus on improving study visibility and execution, the two top drivers among CROs for unifying clinical applications.

A third (33%) of CROs also cite collaboration as a challenge. Unified systems and processes make it easier for CROs, sponsors, and sites to work together and share information throughout the course of a trial. This is contributing to CROs’ move toward advanced clinical applications, as most (91%) now have initiatives planned or underway to unify their clinical applications for improved trial performance.

Speeding study execution has become a top priority for CROs, especially as sponsors continue to outsource study start-up processes. Findings show that nearly 80% of CROs are taking steps to improve study start-up. This supports the fact that an increasing number of CROs are making technology investments to improve trial efficiency.

Easier collaboration among trial partners is one of the top three most important drivers for enhancing study start-up processes. Almost half of CROs (45%) say collaboration during study start-up continues to be an area of improvement.

CROs report the need to improve their use of CTMS in trial operations, with 81% citing CTMS system issues as a limiting factor. Most CROs have CTMS applications that cannot fully support a range of key functions, including investigator relationship management (93%)governance and oversight (89%), and study metrics and reporting (85%). The majority of CROs see improving CTMS systems and processes as a way to enable proactive risk identification (74%), improve study analytics and reporting (60%), and enhance visibility to effectively manage and optimize trials (59%).

The number of CROs now using an electronic trial master file (eTMF) application (a clinical collaboration platform for managing clinical trial documents) has more than doubled since 2014, from 21% to 54%. This increase has been matched by a decline in general purpose content management systems and file shares, signaling a shift from passive TMF management toward a mature, active TMF operating model where TMF processes and information are managed in real-time.

CROs have made significant progress in modernizing trial processes with purpose-built eTMF applications. Organizations that use advanced eTMF applications report having greater visibility into TMF status and fewer challenges, including with study partner collaboration.

Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area (USA), Veeva Systems is a leader in cloud-based software for the global life sciences industry. The company has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

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