Increasing data volume, trial complexity and changes in sponsor and regulator demands are driving investments in IT systems among contract research organisations (CROs).
Parexel recently unveiled a new clinical trial management system (CTMS) it claims can speed trial start-up, PRA Health Sciences launched its Predictivv trial design tech in June , and Quintiles is using - and regularly investing in - its Infosario technology platform.
But despite this, Jefferies analyst David Windley described the CRO industry as “technology agnostic” in a note following meetings with five of the top 12 CROs, with INC Research particularly standing out in its belief in using Medidata as a third-party vendor for nearly all its technology needs.
“According to management, software is Medidata’s business and they are more likely to recruit and retain top software developers,” Windley wrote.
But any fears INC is ‘missing out’ were alleviated, with Windley explaining that “as the largest user of Medidata’s full suite, INC plays an active role in strategising Medidata’s ‘roadmap.’” Among the services, the CRO uses the electronic data capture Medidata Rave, and the operational clinical trial management Medidata CTMS.
Windley also added “the industry is moving towards a patient centric model utilising wearables to enhance trials and increase patient adherence. INC believes wearable providers are more likely to reach out to Medidata, rather than individual CROs, to interface platforms and reach broader audiences.”
Medidata has been at the forefront in integrating mobile health (mHealth) devices in clinical trials, strengthening its position through investments and partnerships such as the recent deal with Validic, which expanded the firm’s access to data through wearable devices and apps including Garmin, Jawbone, Fitbit, and Withings.
The cloud-based software firm is also contributing to Apple’s ResearchKit framework, intended to help medical researchers develop apps and data-collection tools through the iPhone.
Quintiles developing in-house
However, Windley pointed out, Quintiles too is involved in ResearchKit and is looking to grow its own IT resources further.
”Third party platforms are not capable of supporting Quintiles’s needs, such as streamlining the magnitude of Quintiles’s investigator payments,” the CRO told the analyst. “The next step is developing more sophisticated predictive data analytics, particularly around RBM.
“Quintiles has also developed a group of 400+ data scientists to centrally monitor trial data to identify site and patient risk, even for trials not utilizing RBM.”