OTTAWA — A research team led by Dr. Khaled El Emam, the Canada Research Chair in Electronic Health Information at the CHEO Research Institute, evaluated the use of technology in Canadian clinical trials, and found that a significant proportion (41%) have moved away from collecting and managing trial data using only paper records.
In his study titled “The Use of Electronic Data Capture Tools in Clinical Trials: Web-survey of 259 Canadian Trials” published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Dr. El Emam and his team found that during the 2006 and 2007 calendar years, there were approximately 950 clinical trials registered with sites in Canada. About half of these were funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Industry trials tend to be 3 to 4 times larger, on average, than academic trials. Less than 10% of Canadian trials target a pediatric population, which also tend to be significantly smaller than those targeting adult populations. Industry funded trials were more likely to be using electronic data capture (EDC) tools. There was no difference between pediatric and adult trials in terms of the use of EDC, but pediatric trials were using more sophisticated EDC systems.
Electronic data capture tools allow researchers to complete a trial in less time and with fewer errors than if they were using the old paper method to capture and process data manually before entering it into a computer.
“The adoption of technology to collect and manage data in clinical trials is increasing, but mostly for industry funded trials. Should academic trials continue to move in that direction, they are expected to gain efficiency and quality benefits.” explained Dr. El Emam.