For researchers conducting clinical trials, it is vital to have a system in place that can save time, accurately gather information and streamline processes. Typically, data collection is a manual process that requires time and resources that are not always available to research teams. Along with new technology and trends in health care, Electronic Data Capture (EDC) systems have changed the way researchers gather data and execute clinical trials or research.
What is Electronic Data Capture?
An EDC system stores patient data that has been collected during clinical trials. Typically, this data is recorded manually on paper by the research team, and is then transferred into the EDC system to be stored as an Electronic Case Report Form (eCRF). Contract Research Organizations (CROs) performing clinical trials have started to adopt EDC software to help execute trials in all phases of research. Although EDC systems vary with the different features they offer (depending on the company, software, or contractor), they are generally designed to modernize data collection for efficiency and accuracy.
EDC Systems in Clinical Trials
By utilizing EDC systems, many important tasks are completed with precision. Other benefits of adopting an EDC system, include:
- Controlled Access to Clinical Research Studies: For clinical research professionals, having the ability to secure controlled access to data is extremely important. With EDC systems, only certain users are approved to update and change data files. Since access is restricted within the system, users can be given specific tasks under the control of managers or leaders within the team.
- Reliability of Data: Consistency of data is the most important aspect of conducting EDC clinical trials. Data collection diminishes bias and other human errors that may drastically affect the study’s results. An EDC system can organize training materials and standard operating procedures in a central location. Other data is collected and organized within the system, eliminating inconsistencies that may threaten the quality of research data.
- Streamlined and Efficient Processes: By utilizing EDC systems for data collection, processes are made more efficient, saving researchers time and resources. Because many manual processes are eliminated, the time spent on a trial is not wasted on capturing data, but rather used for study visits and additional research. Enrollment for patient participation in clinical trials is simplified, because EDC systems gather participant information and organize it in a way that makes data easy for researchers to use and review prior to starting a trial.
- Secure Cloud Storage: Another advantage to an EDC system is the ability to remotely access clinical trial data. Secured cloud storage is one of the best ways to review enrollment information, receive email updates, study progress, and results. This means that researchers can access this information safely, without having to be present in a specific location or medical facility.
Electronic Data as the Preferred Method of Data Collection
While traditional, manual methods of data capture may still be an option, electronic data capture has quickly proven itself as the preferred method due to the accuracy, efficiency and affordability of the systems.
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