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June 6, 2024 Data

6 Common Challenges for Data-Driven Contract Research Organizations

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By Brian Anderson

Contract Research Organizations (CROs) have experienced a significant evolution in the role of data in their operational efficiency. Managing the immense volumes of data generated during clinical trials, CROs oversee data collection, storage, and analysis, ensuring data integrity, security, and compliance with relevant regulations and standards. 

However, as data volume and complexity grow, CROs face substantial challenges in data management. We assessed and identified ways to address these challenges during a recent webinar. 

This blog will recap that webinar, exploring six common data challenges CROs encounter daily and discuss how adopting a modern database strategy can help mitigate these prevalent issues. 

The Modern Data Approach

The “modern data approach” discussed during the webinar involves centralizing an organization’s data from various sources into a unified platform. This centralization enables the data to be extracted, organized, and curated systematically, providing a single source of truth for reporting, analytics, and insights.  

Key elements of this approach include integrating all data sources, preparing the data in cohesive steps, and using AI/ML techniques to identify and address data issues and inconsistencies. 

Instead of connecting all systems, the modern data approach utilizes a centralized process to pull data from multiple sources into a single repository. This allows for better control and management of data, reducing the risk of errors and promoting collaboration across departments. 

The modern data approach centralizes an organization’s data from multiple sources into a single platform for easier consumption and improved data quality, accuracy of reporting, and ability to apply advanced analytics compared to traditional point-to-point integration methods. 

6 Data Challenges Keeping CROs Awake at Night 

1) Reliance on Spreadsheets

One of CROs’ most significant challenges is their reliance on spreadsheets for data management. While spreadsheets may seem convenient and familiar, they can quickly become unwieldy and prone to errors when handling large volumes of data. Version control also becomes an issue when multiple team members work on the same spreadsheet, leading to inconsistent or incorrect data. 

To address this challenge, CROs should consider adopting modern data platforms that allow for a more organized and controlled approach to data management. By centralizing all data sources in one platform, spreadsheets can be eliminated or used only for basic calculations, reducing the risk of errors and improving efficiency. 

2) Multiple Data Sources Create Complexity

Clinical trials generate large volumes of data from various sources, including EHRs, lab systems, patient-reported outcomes (PRO), and electronic data capture (EDC) systems. These diverse sources can lead to complexity in data management, especially when attempting to integrate and synchronize the data. 

The modern data approach simplifies this process by centralizing all sources into one platform and using automated methods to extract, transform, and load the data. This approach ensures consistency and accuracy of data, making it easier for CROs to analyze and report on trial progress. 

3) Data Quality & Accuracy

Data quality and accuracy are essential for clinical trials, where even the slightest error can have significant consequences. However, with multiple data sources and manual data entry processes, it can be challenging to maintain high levels of data quality. 

By adopting a robust modern data approach, CROs can use automated processes that identify and correct real-time errors. This saves time and resources spent on manual data checks and corrections and ensures that the data used for analysis is accurate and reliable. 

4) Resource Constraints for Building Reports/Dashboards

Generating reports and dashboards can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process for CROs. With traditional data management methods, data must be extracted from multiple sources and manually compiled into reports, requiring significant resources and creating delays in decision-making. 

Using a modern data approach, CROs can quickly generate reports and dashboards by accessing real-time data from a centralized platform. Especially with tools like Sidekick and our custom data dashboard services. 

5) Long Lead Times to Compile and Deliver Reports

Traditional data management methods often result in long lead times to compile and deliver reports, strain CRO resources, and delay decision-making. This issue is exacerbated when dealing with regulatory requirements requiring the timely submission of accurate and comprehensive data. 

With a modern data approach, CROs can take advantage of real-time data availability and automated processes to significantly reduce the time it takes to compile and deliver reports. This allows for more efficient decision-making and compliance with regulatory requirements. 

6) Duplicated Efforts Producing Similar Reports

In traditional data management methods, different departments or individuals may work on similar reports, resulting in duplicated efforts and wasted resources. This issue is prevalent when dealing with multiple data sources and formats. 

By centralizing all data into a single platform, BrainSell knows from working with other CROs that they can eliminate duplicated efforts and ensure consistency across reporting. The modern data approach also allows for easy sharing of data and reports across departments, promoting collaboration and efficiency. 

Want to Assess Your Data Readiness?

Adopting a modern data approach is essential for CROs looking to overcome their significant data challenges. By centralizing data from multiple sources into a unified platform, CROs can improve data quality, reduce errors, and streamline the process of generating reports and dashboards. This enhances operational efficiency and enables more timely and informed decision-making, which is crucial for the successful execution of clinical trials.  

Embracing these advanced data strategies will position CROs better to manage the increasing volume and complexity of data, ultimately leading to more successful trial outcomes and compliance with regulatory standards. 

Want to learn how BrainSell can help CROs with their data challenges? Connect with us today! 

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Author Bio

Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson joined BrainSell as the content marketing manager but unknowingly became our in-house troubadour as well. Brian’s ability to generate high-quality content and continue to develop the BrainSell voice is unmatched.

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