Communication and Clinical Trials

March 1, 2005

Applied Clinical Trials

Applied Clinical Trials, Applied Clinical Trials-03-01-2005,

A challenge that intersects the global community

A challenge that intersects the global community


Good communication is a necessity within the clinical trials community, especially with the globalization of trials and the increase in outsourcing. Words such as electronic data capture, information technology, informatics, eLearning, Webinar, etc., have become synonyms or replacements for new and different types of communication. This model of communication has added a litany of new words to our vocabulary and created novel ways to disperse information. As a result, the way we communicate has become complicated and sometimes confusing.

The good news is that the clinical trials community recognizes the need to find a common language and common definitions. Several groups have risen to the challenge and are working on standardizing the language used in different sectors of the clinical trial industry--CDISC, HL7, and DICOM, etc. However, there is a lot more work to be done to ensure that good communication remain a priority in the industry.

Communication was an underlying topic of discussion at a recent conference I attended (Partnering with Central Labs, ECG, and Imaging Labs Conference). One of the preconference workshops focused on strategizing and streamlining processes among sponsors, labs, and suppliers. In the course of the discussion, participants realized how important it was that they all speak the same language in order to accomplish their end goals. It was also suggested that understanding the needs of all of the stakeholders in the clinical trials community should be a continuing goal.

Understanding and defining the same language is a challenge that intersects most of the clinical trials community and is especially relevant to that part of the industry that outsources.

Several of the suggestions that came out of the workshop are applicable to the clinical trials industry as a whole. Developing online working groups and collaboration tools, and changing the point of entry of the outsourcer in trial protocol were thought-provoking suggestions. The idea that outsourcers should be an early part of trial protocol discussions may be novel to some. It will require changes to infrastructures within the sponsor companies and outsourcers. Changes are already taking place with the increase in risk-taking partnerships and collaborations. Open communication is a vital part of a healthy industry. Obviously, solutions need to be found in order to avoid delays, loss of revenue, and impediments to future collaborations and partnerships.

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