The clinical research landscape is changing – drastically. Aside from medical advancements and the sheer number of clinical trials increasing year-over-year, how these clinical trials operate looks completely different than it did ten or even five years ago. Today’s Modern Clinical Trial requires robust and purpose-built eClinical solutions.
To maximize the benefits of eClinical platforms, it is essential the stakeholder (i.e., Clinical Trial Team, Research Site, CRO, or sponsor) understands the impact specific core capabilities have on their current and future operations.
One of the essential capabilities an eClinical stakeholder must ensure exists is the ability to integrate with other systems through Open APIs – or, more simply, that their electronic systems can “talk” to other systems now and in the future.
Why a Closed-System Platform is Not in Your Best Interest
Technology is evolving at an exponential rate, and what works for you today may not be what you need tomorrow. A single vendor cannot deliver best-in-class software for every operational function. However, many vendors act as though this is not the case by forcing you into a closed system that does not integrate with other platforms.
This “closed-system platform” is often described as beneficial to the clinical trial team by implying a single platform will solve all of your problems and be less challenging. While appealing, these same perceived benefits end up being the bottlenecks that restrict efficiency as technology advances.
Closed-system platforms attempt to band-aid their lack of integration capabilities by offering add-on modules. These modules rarely perform at the level best-in-class solutions provide, lack advanced functionality, and are poorly designed to maximize usability.
As technology continues to evolve for all clinical trial eClinical stakeholders – research sites, CROs, and sponsors – the consumer should avoid being locked into these closed-systems by forcing their software vendor to integrate with other best-in-class platforms.
Select best-in-class systems for your teams, while ensuring they work harmoniously with each other.
Keep up with the latest technology capabilities by seamlessly integrating existing systems with new systems.
Reduce workload by eliminating repetitive tasks associated with disparate systems.
Reduce password and system fatigue by deploying Single-Sign-On capabilities.
The Basics: Defining the API
The first requirement for understanding integration capabilities is having a basic understanding of an API. An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a mechanism used by one system to let other systems send instructions or requests to perform certain actions – allowing them to communicate with each other.
Think of this like a set of instructions you have for a task that you then provide to the next person to carry out that task with tools at his or her disposal. In this case, it is software systems carrying out the tasks for each other.
Ultimately, an API enables a best-in-class system to perform its independent functions while remaining interconnected to other best-in-class systems.
A few API examples:
A clinical trial document management system (eRegulatory/eSource) that allows other platforms to create or edit documents.
A CTMS (Clinical Trial Management System) that allows viewing of regulatory and source documents stored in other systems.
A study startup package with all roles, assignments, permissions, and folder/binder structures built that deploys in all eClinical systems at once.
Single-Sign-On capability so no one has to remember a dozen passwords.
A messaging system that allows other systems to send messages on its behalf.
Download ten questions you should ask your eClinical vendor about integrations