The small things

Choosing software for clinical trials - the small things

by Stephanie Courcy

Posted on January 1, 2018 at 12:00 PM

The overall goal of a CTMS is improved efficiency. Most systems on the market today offer similar key features for managing clinical, administrative and financial aspects of research. When considering different systems, evaluating secondary features can be crucially important as these seemingly “small” attributes can lead to big benefits.

Research organizations today face a heavy compliance burden. Managing the flow of information requires significant staff time and experience. Implementing a CTMS can help sites effectively manage all aspects of the clinical trial process. So who benefits from a CTMS? Everyone involved - investigators, research nurses/coordinators, data managers, administrators, IRB, and even patients.


The “small” things.


  • To be efficient, users should be able to access a CTMS from anywhere and on any device. A web-based system gives staff the ability to use a desktop or laptop computer, tablet or even smartphone to access their system. As long as a connection to the Internet can be established, users can be in their office, in a patient exam room, at home or on the road.


  • Automatic email notifications throughout the system for efficient, seamless communication. A CTMS should take the “heavy lifting” of communication off the shoulders of users.


  • Easy access to patient event calendars for efficient completion of events.


  • A CTMS should automatically flag patient records for re-consent and ensure that only the most current version of a consent form can be downloaded for patients.


  • Let the CTMS do the remembering and reminding staff of licensure expiration by sending automatic email notifications at various time points prior to expiration.


  • Offering low-cost protocol schema builds. Entering a complex study design into a CTMS can be a very labor-intensive task. Companies that provide protocol builds for a low cost can save significant staff time.


  • Communication between CTMS and EMR. To increase efficiency, a CTMS should “talk” to your institution’s EMR to share patient demographic and protocol data.


  • Does your institution have a public website that lists your open studies and contact information? Your CTMS should dynamically maintain that website by exporting data to automatically update study information including downloadable forms.


  • Continuous updates lead to an efficient CTMS. Look for a partnership between the CTMS and its users. The system should represent best practice and offer users immediate updates at no charge.


  • Staff training and support is KEY to improving overall efficiency. If site staff are not properly trained or do not have quick answers to their questions, efficiency will not be attained.


Choosing a CTMS that is right for your organization is a big decision. Most systems offer similar “big” features that make them a CTMS. However, don’t overlook the “small” features that can make all the difference.