“CROs are continuing to advance and lead the industrywide move to adopt modern clinical applications for increased efficiency, better collaboration, and improved clinical trial performance,” said Jim Reilly, vice president, Vault R&D at Veeva Systems.
According to the Veeva 2019 Unified Clinical Operations Survey: Annual CRO Report, the state of information exchange creates challenges as it pertains to tracking and reporting (71%), misfiled or missing documents (59%), among other issues.
“As a result, CROs are initiating change to simplify information exchange with study partners,” said Reilly – and these changes are expected to reduce manual processes, streamline collaboration, improve study quality and timelines.
An example of this change, Reilly said the Veeva is seeing an uptick in technology adoption, as addressing information exchange challenges is a ‘key focus’ for CROs.
“This is likely a priority as outsourcing continues to rise and CROs seek to move from previously transactional relationships with sponsors to strategic partnerships, where communication is key for success,” added Reilly.
The survey also revealed a continued focus on improving study start-up. While last year most respondents reported having plans to improve in this area, efforts to improve are still underway, and growing.
Said Reilly, “This phase of trials is often outsourced to CROs and they are experiencing a number of issues, including the majority relying on manual spreadsheets to manage this area.”
In this phase, the fastest growing issue is site contracting and budgeting, per the report, which this year saw more specificity around how information exchange is limiting collaboration.
Not surprising, is that CROs continue to lead the industry in adopting purpose-built applications, Reilly said, noting that they are doing so at an accelerated pace.
“As a partner to the life sciences industry, CROs are laser-focused on running efficient, quality, collaborative trials,” he added. “They typically invest more in technology to ensure they retain that competitive edge and can meet and exceed the growing demands of sponsors.”
Conversely, many organizations still relay on manual processes, such as spreadsheets, though Reilly expects companies to transition away from these methods ‘in the coming years.’
Per the report, all CRO respondents described significant challenges with study start-up with more than three-quarters reporting the use of spreadsheets.
“We are hearing loud and clear that all CROs want to unify clinical applications to increase visibility and oversight, speed clinical trials, and streamline collaboration,” said Reilly – which echoes what the company is hearing from sponsors.
Driven by a need for increased visibility and oversight (74%), faster trials (68%), and easier stakeholder collaboration (63%), all CRO respondents cited a need to unify clinical applications, per the report.
“As we can see year-over-year, CROs are driving change forward at speed, and it will be interesting to see how this ambition to conduct better trials will be realized, particularly in major clinical areas like study start-up and CTMS which respondents highlight as being ripe for improvement,” added Reilly.
“As outsourcing continues to grow, CROs will continue to adapt in order to remain competitive, drive efficiencies, and ultimately speed time to market.”