Survey Spotlights Trends in Technology Uptake for Clinical Trials

Claire Sears, Director of Product Communications, DrugDev

Claire Sears, Director of Product Communications, DrugDev

A survey conducted by DrugDev provides an interesting snapshot of global technology adoption in clinical trials.

Broadly speaking, it suggests everybody wants to use more technology in their trials, but they aren’t always sure the other guy is interested.

“The top reason why sites don’t use [electronic trial] apps is because they weren’t asked,” says Claire Sears, DrugDev Director of Product Communications and co-leader of the 2017 Investigator Survey.

“We were a little surprised by that,” Sears said. “It’s actually quite encouraging, because that’s something as an industry we can solve.”

According to the survey, a majority of sites rated three technology factors as a barrier:

  • The difficulty and/or time required for training on the tech (with 60% saying it is “sometimes,” “often,” or “all the time” a barrier)
  • An app associated with the tech is too hard/not intuitive (56% sometimes, often, or all the time a barrier)
  • The tech is too time-consuming to use vs. paper/e-mail/fax (53% sometimes, often, or all the time a barrier)

On the positive side, the elusive human factor doesn’t appear to be much of a barrier. According to the survey, about two-thirds of responding sites reported their staff were “rarely or never” resistant to learning new technologies.

It’s up to providers to deliver easier training and more intuitive tools to further encourage eClinical trial tool usage, Sears said.

While desktop and laptop computers remain the primary devices used by clinical researchers, collection of trial data via tablet represents just 2% of the total. Figures aren’t yet dissected amongst specific countries, though early analysis suggests Brazil and Mexico lead the way.

The survey also found globally that nearly 60% of sites used electronic data capture on all of their studies. Electronic signatures are utilized by about 30%, while 23% use electronical trial applications on all studies. That’s the same order as revealed by the previous survey’s results in 2016.

The latest survey was conducted in July and August this year. There were 466 responses, of which 143 came from the United States. Respondents covered a wide variety of therapy areas. Slightly more than half of respondents work solely on industry-sponsored studies. Thirty-seven percent work in a hospital or medical center; 31% work in a non-hospital clinical practice; and 26% work in a non-hospital clinical research site.

Separately, the survey addressed patient recruitment issues. For example, it found the U.S. was a “much more flexible” setting when it came to scheduling patient appointments.

While some countries such as Spain tended to focus their offerings on evening clinical trial appointments, the sites in the U.S. were far more likely to offer early morning, evening, and weekend appointments than many international counterparts.

To learn more about the survey results on patient recruitment, see the forthcoming January 2018 issue of Clinical Researcher, ACRP’s online journal.

Author: Michael Causey