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The eClinical Cloud: Does Yours Pass the Litmus Test?

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The word "eClinical" is jargon that our industry has used for the last decade. It has meant different things to different people, from simply applying technology to older paper-based clinical trial processes, all the way to defining the future state of clinical development. The word "cloud" is a lot more recent in usage, however its appearance around technology is skyrocketing in almost every industry, and its interpretations are equally diverse and sometimes obscure.

There are certainly people who use both "eClinical" and "cloud" who are sponsors, CROs, hardware vendors, software vendors, systems integrators—you name it!—who back-into a definition that's convenient for them. There are also those, on the other hand, who strive for the true spirit and value behind those terms.

If you say you are doing "eClinical," yet all you are doing is the same old process, just on the web instead of paper, you aren't really using the term The Right Way (capitals intended!). Similarly, if you use the term "cloud" in the context of merely taking the same software a company could have implemented and run for themselves, but putting it in a different data center, you are trying to associate yourself with a sexy marketing term, without fulfilling its full promise (in fact, you should probably be referring to yourself with the distinctly unsexy term "application service provider").

So what is The Right Way to characterize the eClinical Cloud? I would suggest that systems need to at least pass a "litmus test" by:

  • Allowing users not to worry about the availability, scalability, integrations and implementation cycles that plague most clinical and corporate systems
  • Making people better at whatever tasks they would be doing than they would be without it, because the cloud experience allows them to work the way they want to, not in the way legacy IT thinking would dictate
  • Continually delighting people by improving their user experience—meaning features are streamlined and introduced in a way that users can adopt and benefit from, on an ongoing basis

Is fulfilling the requirements of the "eClinical Cloud" easy? Of course not; we spend a lot of our time at Medidata striving to make those characteristics a reality in every part of the Medidata platform. Like doing clinical research, itself: If it was easy, everyone would do it, but it is worth it—and necessary—to do right!

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