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Clinical Insider
Clinical Insider

Digitization of trials sector has stalled, says survey

Posted by on 10 June 2024
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According to new analysis, adoption of digital technologies by the clinical trials sector has slowed in part due to implementation challenges.

DT Consulting looked at the drug trial industry’s “digital maturity” in a survey, quizzing 18 biopharmaceutical companies about their use of digital technologies in areas like clinical trial risk management, and clinical trial transparency and data-sharing.

And the key finding was that the industry’s overall digital maturity, while still good, has not progressed over the past year.

According to the authors “2023 ushered in a new era of ground breaking digital trends and big technological leaps such as the rapid introduction of digital measures and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in clinical trial processes, each of which has the potential to transform the industry and the customer experience it delivers.

“But these promising advances also create new challenges for pharma firms and their clinical ops teams, which need to adapt rapidly to a changing digital landscape.”

With this in mind DT team also asked respondents whether they had developed strategies for the adoption of digital technology in clinical trials. And, while most said they had plans in place, a majority now expect the transition to take longer than originally expected.

“All this year’s respondents say that they either have aligned this strategy with other areas, such as medical affairs and commercial operations, or plan to do so, a sharp increase over 2022.

“On a less positive note, 80% of leaders believe that they can achieve their strategy and digital transformation plans within five years; the remainder think it will take longer. This is a significant shift from 2022, when all leaders surveyed believed that their strategy was achievable within five years," they wrote.

For some respondents the financial burden of adopting digital technology is an issue, According to the authors “Nearly half of senior leaders say they face budget challenges with implementing digital capabilities in clinical operations.”

For example, some 69% of respondents said they expect their digital transformation budgets to stay flat or decrease next year. In addition, although most participants said they dedicate budget to clinical ops digital transformation projects, the percentage that don’t almost tripled.


The DT researchers also proposed some measures to accelerate the trial sectors digital transformation, the first of which was the suggestion that companies take stock of efforts so far.

“This audit enables a strategic assessment of ongoing projects and helps identify areas where clinical ops can achieve quick and secure funding without compromising long-term objectives,” they write.
The authors also suggest the adoption of performance indicators – KPIs – would aid firms struggling to illustrate the benefits of digital tech.

“Measuring a digital project’s impact is key to the success of any implementation—but our data indicates a troubling lack of standards here.

They add that “Real-time dashboards provide visibility into the effectiveness of strategies, allowing for prompt adjustments. Not having this in place exposes the risk of perceived value coming out of global digital capabilities teams.”


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