In just a few decades, clinical trials have changed dramatically. Twenty years ago, most of the data used in clinical research was entered on paper, but today it can come from sources as varied as sensors, smartphones, and electronic health records (EHRs). The COVID-19 pandemic has brought even more changes as pharmaceutical companies rush to adapt remote methods for collecting data and conducting visits so that patients can be kept safe. In addition, trials for new COVID-19 vaccines and treatments must be set up very quickly and be able to adapt to mid-study changes in near real time.
Pharmaceutical companies are realizing that new digital approaches are not only possible but can bring real benefits to running clinical trials. As they take a serious look at the best ways to design and implement clinical trials that incorporate virtual components and new types of data, it is becoming clear that traditional electronic data capture (EDC) systems aren’t equipped to handle the complex data collection and integration required in today’s environment.
In response, new platforms for data collection and clinical trial management are emerging that can support the volume and variety of data that results from incorporating virtual components into clinical trials. Additionally, clinical trial processes that used to be supported by separate systems are now being supported in the same environment, making it faster, easier, and cheaper to set up and run clinical trials. These advancements in the technology supporting clinical trials give study teams more realistic information about how well a drug is working so they can make better decisions. Not only does this help bring new treatments to patients faster, but it also helps pharmaceutical companies focus efforts on drugs that are most likely to be successful.