Getting Onto the Cloud, One Step at a Time

October 1, 2017
Lisa Henderson

Lisa Henderson is Editor-in-Chief of Applied Clinical Trials and Pharm Exec. She can be reached at lhenderson@mmhgroup.com.

Applied Clinical Trials

Applied Clinical Trials, Applied Clinical Trials-10-01-2017, Volume 26, Issue 10

The key to moving legacy systems-electronic or paper-to the cloud: Do it in doses-and learn from those who went before.

In a new commercial from Perdue (chicken, not pharma), the “young-un’s” walk around the farm with their older Dad, discussing chicken-farm management via tools in the cloud. When they say “cloud,” their Dad looks up to the sky, then shakes his head.

We don’t get that reaction so much anymore when we talk about eClinical technology in the cloud. Three years ago, cloud was a big topic fraught with anxiety around security. Now, it appears cloud technology is only limited by the resources a sponsor or CRO wants put into it.

You might think that those resources are related to costs or infrastructure required to move legacy systems to the cloud, and they are an issue for sure. But what I learned recently at the 2017 Veeva R&D Summit, is some companies still run trials on paper. 

Ora Clinical, a specialty CRO focused on ophthalmology located outside of Boston, started moving its 100% paper processes into the cloud two years ago with Veeva’s Vault eTMF solution. This was followed a year later with Vault Study Start-Up, and now the company is rolling out Vault CTMS. These were all processes that Ed Leftin, Senior Vice President, Technology, for Ora Clinical, felt were necessary for the company to provide real-time insight into trials, internal accountability, ability to measure and turnaround outcomes quickly for clients, and much more. The CRO is currently considering adding Veeva’s EDC capabilities as a potential next module.

Leftin was not shy about sharing his experiences in implementing the Veeva cloud modules. His major takeaways and lessons learned were around change management and training. He noted the eTMF implementation was relatively painless. However, for the next two, he said he would’ve traded two weeks on implementation time for employee training (10 weeks and 12 weeks, respectively).

Leftin allows that his company is small-250 employees-but was cognizant of the benefits it would gain moving to the cloud. But to ensure there was no loss of time with employees inputting data into the new systems, Leftin says only new studies were rolled into the cloud. 

Matt Wallach, President of Veeva Systems, shared at a media-biopharma roundtable that large pharmaceutical companies want to move to modern technology across all functional areas in the organization, but are overwhelmed with how to replace all of those legacy systems all at once. Wallach suggested that they do it in stages; for example, replace all the legacy applications with cloud solutions for just the new trials, then retire the legacy systems as those trials roll off.

It also appears from the experiences shared at the Summit that once one cloud system is successfully adopted in one functional area, people become comfortable and other areas follow suit. Veeva announced that its Adverse Event Tracking solution will be available in 2018. But Wallach said, “It will be like 2007 all over again. We will introduce another group of people to the cloud.” In either scenario, legacy-to-cloud, or paper-to-cloud, learn from those who have gone before you in your company, or other companies. Don’t underestimate the necessary training and happiness of your users.  

 

Lisa Henderson is Editor-in-Chief of Applied Clinical Trials. She can be reached at lisa.henderson@ubm.com. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @trialsonline

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