Crawl, Walk, Run Model Speeds Trial Technology Adoption

Blake Adams, Director of Marketing, Florence Healthcare

While millennials may have a hard time believing it, there was a time when people didn’t understand they could order a lamp, or groceries, or that obscure Rolling Stones CD from the same site with same-day delivery. Tech giant Amazon is ubiquitous at meeting such demands today, but it wasn’t always so. Therein lies a lesson for clinical trial technology advocates, says Blake Adams, director of marketing with Florence Healthcare.

“If, when Amazon first came about, they had told us, ‘Hey here’s an Echo Dot that you can place in your living room and tell it what you want to order,’ we probably all would have been a little freaked out,” Adams says.

Instead, Amazon adopted what Adams calls the “crawl, walk, run approach.” First, it “crawled” by helping customers get used to the idea of buying books online. After a decent interval, Amazon then began to “walk” by introducing a wider array of products.

“Amazon said you could [also] buy your toiletries or your groceries or whatever it is you wanted [from them],” Adams notes. Now the company is off and running with applications like a refrigerator that can scan your larder and place an online order before you notice you’re just about out of tomato soup.

Webinar: Tech-Enabled Trials: An Overview of How Technology is Transforming Clinical Trial Operations

Join Adams on Wednesday, January 23 and learn how to design your own crawl-walk-run methodology when introducing technology into your clinical trial operations. Adams will outline where industry currently stands on the technology adoption curve, discuss drivers for tech adoption, and share a “before/after” case study of tech adoption at a site.  This webinar is FREE for ACRP Members.

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Obviously, the comparison between the Amazon model and a clinical trial is not a perfect one, Adams allows. However, some lessons Amazon learned can be adapted for technology proponents in their struggle to introduce new clinical trial technologies.

“Technology has the potential to transform clinical trial operations,” Adams says. However, introducing technology into site operations requires careful planning and strategy.

Not sure where your clinical trial operation stands compared to your peers? Adams estimates about 60% of the clinical trial industry is in the “crawl” stage when it comes to adopting new technologies in a meaningful way.

Instead of walking or running, too many sites are muddling through with technology that wasn’t necessarily purpose-built for the situations site staff are using it for. For example, Adams says, using “Microsoft Excel to do project management [or] a server-based platform that wasn’t necessarily designed to be Part 11 compliant, but people have tweaked and added their own permission structures and custom-built some things.”

Sites, contract research organizations (CROs), and others won’t have the luxury of crawling too much longer, Adams suggests. Under increasing regulatory pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, sponsors will demand that CROs can demonstrate they offer 24/7 remote oversight of how trials are proceeding at sites.

Author: Michael Causey

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