Innovation Summit Recap: Reducing the Chaos of Technology Vendor Overload in Clinical Research

The breakneck pace of new technology vendors entering the clinical trials space was the key focus during Florence’s Q1 Innovation Summit, hosted by Florence’s Innovations Team of Andrea Bastek, PhD and Beau Bruneau. Innovative leaders from sites, sponsors, CROs and other vendors spent the summit discussing what types of technology exist, who should own them and fund them, and how to decide which software is right for which team. 

In this post, Beau Bruneau share his three key insights from the Q1 2023 Florence Innovation Summit:

The team who uses the technology is often not the team who purchases it. Decision makers must focus on ease-of-use for the end user.

Sponsors or CROs often purchase technology for sites to use. 67% of sites receive ePRO software from their sponsors, 59% receive eCOA software, and 37% receive eConsent software. About a quarter (28%) receive an eISF or site feasibility software.

Sponsors giving technology to sites can be helpful–if sponsors understand sites’ workflows and provide technology that’s easy for them to use. Florence advocates for Site Enablement software, site-centric platforms for collaboration between sites, sponsors, and CROs.

How can sponsors and CROs determine whether a platform will enable sites or disrupt sites?

  • Involve site users in choosing technology
  • Search for vendors with high site adoption rates
  • Ensure sites control who has access to their documents and data

Sites and sponsors both want the other to accept their technology. To move the industry forward, integration is key.

When asked how they would like sponsors to approach technology, the majority of sites chose “Accepts site-owned technology” as their number-one priority. 

But sponsors also said their number-one priority for sites was “Accepts sponsor/CRO-provided technology.” What’s the solution to this site-sponsor conflict? 

Integrations are one option. If a site’s preferred platform and a sponsor or CRO’s preferred platform are integrated, each team can use the platforms they prefer, and collaboration becomes easier. 

Many vendors also make more than one product: for example, they might make an eISF and an eTMF, or an EDC and eConsent platform. But with hundreds of styles of clinical trial software, it’s doubtful one vendor could make a great version of them all. Integrations let sites and sponsors pick the best version of each platform and still collaborate. 

Technology needs to be purpose-built for clinical research’s specific problems.

Technology should help clinical trial teams, not overwhelm them. But clinical research teams still face many challenges that technology platforms haven’t been able to solve. 

For example, dozens of platforms now exist to help with patient recruitment. But recruitment remains sponsors’ number-one problem they’d like to solve with technology, and 80% of sites don’t meet their recruitment goals on time. 

That means it’s time, not to build more technology, but to listen to what sites and sponsors need from their technology. Should recruitment technology target patients using different tactics? Are there demographics that are underserved? Is better patient matching needed for precision medicine trials? Are recruitment solutions provided to sites actually helping them, or could they recruit more effectively using their own strategies?

Just because technology exists doesn’t mean it meets teams’ needs. Technology vendors need to commit to listening to clinical research professionals–and clinical trial teams need to seek out vendors who will accept and incorporate their feedback. 

Moving Forward with Technology

Clinical research teams have to choose between hundreds of clinical trial software platforms, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To find technology that will accelerate trials instead of slowing them down, research professionals need integrated, easy-to-use platforms that focus on enabling all stakeholders–sites, sponsors, CROs, and patients. 

To hear what other sponsors, CROs, and sites seek out in their technology, read our 2023 State of Clinical Trial Technology Report, with insights from 450 clinical research teams on the future of the technology landscape. And if you missed the chance to attend the Innovation Summit, you can find the full recording here