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Innovation needed to kick-start eClinical sector; goBalto

By Nick Taylor , 03-Nov-2011
Last updated on 03-Nov-2011 at 15:34 GMT2011-11-03T15:34:18Z

A “tectonic shift will kick-start eClinical innovation and move the sector beyond “clunky” systems currently available, the goBalto CEO said.

Clinical trial technology is now widely accepted and many companies have formed to meet the needs of sponsors and contract research organisations (CRO). However, despite this diversity and demand some feel innovation is lacking.

The level of innovation in clinical trials is practically non-existent”, Jae Chung, CEO and founder of goBalto, told Outsourcing-Pharma. Many companies in the sector are “carbon copies” of each other, Chung said, and offer “clunky”, SharePoint-based software not designed specifically for clinical trials.

Other industries are moving away from these types of enterprise systems to platforms that offer the ease of use of consumer products. Chung said this “tectonic shift” is now reaching clinical trials and gives goBalto many opportunities to disrupt the industry.

Tracker is the first step in goBalto’s plans for disruption. GoBalto introduced the SaaS (software-as-a-service) study startup tool in March and has 90 prospects it is talking to about running a pilot project or signing up as full clients.

Chung said clients are attracted to the ease of use, automation and transparency of Tracker. Users can see each team’s responsibilities and, through automated time stamps, can identify bottlenecks in the system. Excel is still commonly used for study startup but this is “cumbersome”, Chung said.

Continual evolution

When a prototype was introduced early in development it was “so clunky” Chung was “astounded” people trialled the system. Since then goBalto has acted on feedback and continually made improvements, such as streamlining eSignatures, to tailor the system to users’ needs, Chung said.

Adopting this ‘agile’ development approach means goBalto frequently updates Tracker and Chung thinks the system “will never be complete”. To fund improvements goBalto raised $5m (€3.6m) of Series A financing last month and will use this to optimise Tracker for trial sites and other upgrades.

Funds will also be used to add staff. goBalto has 20 full-time staff but this figure could double, depending on client demand, as the company adds customer service employees and expands into Europe and Asia, Chung said.

A dominant platform

Efforts are also underway to expand beyond study startup. Chung said clients have shown interest in using the Tracker interface in other clinical trial applications and goBalto is looking into where best to focus development efforts.

The goal is to eliminate the need to use multiple systems by creating a single platform that can make sense of all clinical trial data. Chung wants goBalto to be “one of the dominant platforms” in this new environment and expects some of the current players in the sector to fail to adapt.

Their days are numbered”, Chung said.

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