Efforts to increase the performance of clinical trials while reducing both cost and time to completion are encouraging the increasing use of eclinical tools such as electronic data capture (EDC).
Meanwhile, the need to improve accessibility to patient data is boosting the use of IT and computer-based patient record systems across hospitals in Europe and North America.
Electronic health records, or EHRs, which give access to a patient's medical history, have been shown to offer a great potential for increasing patient safety while reducing health care costs.
Now a report by Frost and Sullivan predicts that the evolution towards integration of EDC and EHRs is a certainty that will affect players in the clinical research as well as clinical care areas.
The convergence of these two trends will subsequently open up the possibility of an integrated HER-clinical trials system.
"The benefits of this integration are numerous and will validate widespread initiatives by stakeholders," said Frost and Sullivan's research analyst Sumitha Kannan.
However, the report forecasts that such change will only happen over the next five to ten years as the current low take-up of both EHRs by hospitals and EDC systems by drug developers and CROs is thwarting the prospects of future convergence.
"In addition, low levels of user comfort with electronic modes, together with the preference for more conventional paper-based methods, will negatively impact the scope for convergence," the report said.
The research stresses that while the use of electronic health records for medical research is still in its infancy, it will someday provide a substantial boost to the speeding up of medical discovery.
"Although poor adoption and penetration of electronic modes presents a challenge, it will be overcome by the need to complement advances in pre-clinical research with similar, robust improvements in clinical research areas," said Kannan.