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Clinical trials: Why choosing the right tech is key for site sponsors

By Sam Whitaker and Jason Dong, Co-CEOs & Co-Founders, Mural Health



The clinical trial space is changing, and the old, outdated methods of paper records and pre-paid debit cards are failing to meet the demands of increased data and patient-centricity.

As hybrid and Decentralized Clinical Trial (DCTs) adoption increases, site sponsors are increasingly having to outsource to obtain the expertise they need.

The pharma industry is no stranger to the outsourcing model.

As far back as 2013, between 20 per cent and 55 per cent of clinical trial functions were outsourced.

Traditionally, drug developers have enrolled full-service contract research organizations (CROs) to act as a single point of contact.

However, with an ever-growing number of service providers, transposing a CRO ‘one-stop shop’ approach to clinical trial technology providers is not feasible.

                   Jason Dong

It is vital then that sponsors know both how to choose the right technology for them and consider how to optimise their strategic partnerships.

How can technology improve my clinical trial?

The right technology can enable patient-centric trials, widening participation, improving satisfaction, and reducing patient drop out.

All trials – whether traditional, hybrid or decentralized – are being supported by an ever-increasing range of enabling technologies, from sensors and wearables to data analytics and telehealth platforms.

Efficiency innovations include digital protocol automation tools and participant payment platforms which decrease the financial burden for patients and automate manual workflows.

How do I decide which technology provider to work with?

Strategic partnerships should be just that – strategic. Vendors should not be another team to manage. Instead, they should offer expertise which extends your own knowledge base.

To help ensure you build the most valuable strategic partnerships you should consider:

  • Can the products be easily adapted to meet my needs?
  • Is the vendor forward-thinking and future proof?
  • Is the design user-centered?
  • Is their proven user satisfaction?

How can I deal with cross-country complexities?

Fintech can be a particularly difficult area to navigate without specialist expertise due to cross-country complexities including tax regulations and the need to ensure providers are compliant and secure from a data perspective across multiple environments.

Guidance on payment to participants can also vary.

For example, in the UK the National Institute for Health and Care Research recommends offering payment “that is commensurate with the nature and demands of the activity and is fair when compared to other members of the research team, to acknowledge the value placed on public involvement”.

                                  Sam Whitaker

It is therefore vital to outsource to providers who have specialist knowledge in this area.

Is there an easy way to connect with experts from multiple fields?

While the ‘one-stop-shop’ approach does not work for clinical technology providers, some vendors have already started to partner with each other, integrating their products to provide best-in-class solutions.

This allows sponsors to get the best of both worlds – a streamlined process and the benefits of strategic partnerships.

For example, Mural Health’s strategic partnership with Ledger Run, an innovative technology company focused on optimizing clinical operations, provides a broader set of functions to mutual customers.

Mural Health and ProofPilot have teamed up to streamline payments and provide more patient choice, while Clinical ink was able to add next-generation payment and logistics functionality to its platform thanks to its Mural Health partnership.


New technologies in clinical trials are on the rise.

Sponsors need to make sure they are choosing the right technology and working with the right partners to ensure they are not left behind.

Selecting clinical trial technology providers who are not just valuable strategic partners but who can also provide access to their own network of specialist experts is key to success.

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