FDA recently announced that it is seeking technology solutions that would integrate the capture of data for electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic data capture (EDC) systems. Specifically, FDA is looking for demonstration projects to test end-to-end EHR to EDC single-point data capture. For example, the system could collect data and simultaneously input it into an electronic health record and a clinical trial system. While the request came from The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), the technology standardization would translate to device and biologics studies as well. Further, the 2013 guidance on Electronic Source Data in Clinical Investigators promotes capturing source data in electronic form.
Can you imagine the time savings and other advantages of a single-point data capture system? FDA says the benefits could include the following: eliminate the duplication of data, enable study form auto-population, facilitate remote data monitoring, reduce the opportunity for human error, and facilitate FDA inspection and reconstruction of the study. This could speed up FDA approval/clearance.
As with all new systems in a regulated industry, policy matters can slow things down. These include addressing patient privacy, access control, confidentiality, HIPAA, source data verification, remote monitoring and Part 11. Further, as with all new technology, the process of integrating legacy systems can be a headache. Plus, there are your existing service provider contracts to consider.
At least initially, CROs and other EDC system providers may not be thrilled, as a single-point data capture system will reduce the need for site monitoring visits and related services. Further, these service providers will need to adapt to this new technology.
While technology standards adoption takes time, clinical trial sponsors should consider whether their technology vendor agreements – not just EDC systems, but all cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS) and other technology service provider agreements – are nimble enough to respond to technology changes and business challenges. And if they are not, then how locked into the agreements and providers is your company? For example, does your company follow these EDC/cloud computing/SaaS best practices:
CROs, EDC providers and other technology service providers in the clinical trials space have historically been able to offer non-robust (or non-existent) “technology law” provisions in their agreements because the agreements were reviewed by clinical/regulatory personnel but not by technology/IT. Good, usable data is the reason that companies sponsor clinical trials. For sponsors to rest assured in their data usability, sponsors should coordinate input by clinical/regulatory and technology personnel on these agreements. FDA’s solicitation of an end-to-end EHR to EDC single-point data capture may help facilitate this convergence.
This FDA technology initiative bears watching. I am curious to see how it plays out in CRO and EDC provider agreements, as it will impact everything from warranties to licensing to limitations of liability and indemnification, not to mention the description of services. If effectively implemented, the FDA’s effort will lead to substantial benefits for clinical trial sponsors and others in the industry.
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