Phones Still a Vital Part of Clinical Research

June 1, 2012
Lisa Henderson

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

Applied Clinical Trials

Applied Clinical Trials, Applied Clinical Trials-06-01-2012, Volume 21, Issue 6

In clinical trials, the need for globally accessible toll-free and other phone numbers for trial functions is vital.

In clinical trials, the need for globally accessible toll-free and other phone numbers for trial functions is vital. But because of the way international telephone carrier services are set up, phone numbers may be left inoperable.

According to Stephen Levenson, Vice President of Global Telecom Testing, international telecommunications companies rent phone lines from local carriers. These companies have no control over the line or service and are dependent on the local carrier. This may not sound problematic, until a number doesn't work. Then it could mean days of downtime to resolve issues.

Levenson's company offers multi-faceted in-country, live human testing of phone numbers. These tests are done within the country to attempt completing outbound calls to ensure the number(s) works. This is different than testing a number by computer, because computers can't determine if customers will be able to call the designated number from in-country local access points, if they can hear clearly, or if other call quality issues are present. Global Telecom Testing offers an additional service through its relationship with locally-based phone carriers to resolve phone issues directly.

Other issues with international calling and their local exchange carrier partners assume that an international telephone number is operational just because it has worked in the past. In addition, some countries or regions have no industry standard or phone company regulation.

Global Telecom Testing's technicians have discovered improper carrier provisioning, improper passcode designation, improper message authentication, echo, static, post dial delay, network inaccessibility, carrier activation failures, and on-site blocking of 800 numbers.

Levenson told Applied Clinical Trials, "What we have found over the past three years is up to 40% of these numbers are not operational when they are handed off to go live. This is a colossal fail for a clinical trial."

—Lisa Henderson

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