CROs Report Progress on Modernizing Clinical Trial Operations

Contract research organizations (CROs) are making significant advancements to modernize and speed clinical trials, according to the latest Veeva Unified Clinical Operations Survey: Annual CRO Report.

An analysis of the survey results indicates the so-called “COVID-Catalyst” is the real deal among responding CROs and sponsors. “COVID-19 dramatically accelerated the need to execute [studies] faster and with greater precision than ever before,” the survey found. The findings show CROs have taken decisive action to streamline trial execution by adopting new digital strategies and technologies that eliminate information siloes, replace manual processes, and enable trial collaboration, according to Veeva.

Nearly all CRO respondents to the survey (90%) have major initiatives under way to unify clinical operations, a lynchpin to faster, more efficient research. The efforts to unify extended beyond CROs’ internal systems and processes. Streamlining collaboration and information sharing with research sites and sponsors was consistently cited by CROs as one of the highest priority areas overall, and as a key driver for the modernization efforts under way.

Other notable survey findings:

  • Most (99%) CRO respondents report the need to unify clinical applications.
  • Standalone, eClinical applications, including electronic data capture (93%), electronic trial master files (eTMF) (82%), and clinical trial management systems (CTMS) (73%), are now utilized by the majority of CROs as they steadily adopt function-specific technologies to improve study execution.
  • Most (98%) CRO respondents say they need to improve information sharing between study partners to reduce manual processes (78%), speed trials (61%), and improve collaboration (57%).
  • Consistent with the aim to streamline information sharing and speed trials, CRO respondents say reducing manual processes (53%) and faster collection of site essential documents (49%) are critical to improving study start-up.
  • CROs have made significant progress modernizing major clinical areas such as eTMF to improve TMF accuracy (70%), completeness (63%), and timeliness (55%).
  • Organizations that use purpose-built CTMS applications (58% of all respondents) report better compliance with standards (67%), greater visibility (63%), and more effective monitoring (63%) compared to those using other methods to manage study execution.

A note on how the survey was conducted: Of the approximately 370,000 individuals invited to take the survey, a total of 4,626 surveys were initiated, the majority of which were terminated based on a qualification question gauging the level of responsibility for clinical operations in their organization. More than 435 unverified responses were eliminated, yielding 524 qualified responses, with 76% identifying as sponsors and 24% as CROs.

Edited by Michael Causey