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Breaking Down Barriers: Why Closed Technology Ecosystems are Holding Back Clinical Research

This is the first in a series of posts from Florence’s Chief Clinical Trial Officer Andres Garcia on building better software for clinical trial operations.

The clinical research industry is complex, and as it evolves, so do the challenges we face. But despite the innovative efforts to reduce complexity, there’s still a sad reality in the industry: some vendors’ closed ecosystems slow down research and delay access to life-saving drugs and treatments.

As the CTO of Florence Healthcare, a technology vendor in the clinical research space, I’m a passionate believer that open APIs and system integrations are an essential toolkit to advancing the industry. We cannot ignore our responsibility to play well with other vendors, including our competitors, and to collaborate with all stakeholders in the clinical research process.

The Problem with Closed Technology Ecosystems

Some vendors think that they can “own the space” and create a single ecosystem. Others may say, “We are the best at what we do” and decide not to collaborate with others. But the reality is that the technology ecosystem is so vast that there are endless categories and products currently deployed throughout sites, CROs, and sponsors.

Technology vendors that operate in the clinical research space have a responsibility to be collaborative with other vendors and service providers. If a vendor doesn’t offer fully open APIs to enable easy integrations, they are simply being obstructive. Instead of advancing clinical research and supporting sites and investigators, they are making decisions that slow down and delay access to patients who need life-saving drugs and treatments.

How Open APIs Can Make a Difference

There are many benefits to open APIs. They allow different technology vendors and service providers to collaborate and develop new solutions, speeding up drug development. For patients who are eagerly awaiting new therapies that can improve their quality of life, this is good news.

Additionally, open APIs simplify workflows and improve study quality. According to a report from the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, “90% of industry respondents cite data integration as a major challenge in clinical trials, while 92% say that the ability to easily share data with internal and external partners would be important to achieving their clinical development goals. Open APIs help overcome this challenge by enabling data to flow seamlessly between systems, reducing the risk of errors and inconsistencies in the clinical trial process. This, in turn, helps to improve patient safety, which is always a top priority in clinical research.

The many benefits of open APIs are not enough to convince some technology vendors and service providers to adopt them. There may be concerns about security risks, or they may be worried about losing their competitive edge.

However, closed ecosystems are simply unsustainable in the current clinical research landscape. Having open APIs that enable seamless integration and collaboration in the midst of so many different systems and technologies is more important than ever.

A Call to Action for Clinical Trial Technology Vendors

APIs are essential to the advancement of clinical research. As technology vendors, we must ensure that our solutions are interoperable with other platforms and tools by collaborating on integrations and APIs.

Clinical research must abandon closed ecosystems and adopt open APIs. We should strive to create a unified, flexible, and collaborative technology ecosystem that benefits everyone involved in clinical research.

We can make a difference if we work together.

About Andres Garcia

Andres Garcia is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Florence Healthcare, an organization focused on improving clinical trials by building technology that helps research sites, CROs and sponsors streamline complex processes and workflows. Before co-founding Florence, he served as Product Manager for AirWatch prior to its $1.5B acquisition by VMware. His experience in security, document management, and SaaS coincides with his passion for solving problems for humans with applied technology.

About Florence Healthcare

Florence’s Site Enablement Platform provides site-centric automated and integrated workflow technology that connects sites, sponsors, and CROs for every step of a clinical trial. Florence powers over 5.5 million research workflows every month across more than 12,000 sites in 45 countries, advancing cures and accelerating research. Its SiteLink solution is deployed by 3 of the top 5 pharma and CRO companies to the sites in their studies to enable remote start-up, monitoring and site management capabilities.