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European Pharmaceutical Contractor

Convergent Technologies - Opportunities in Clinical Trials

In the Beginning...

It can be argued that the first true remote data entry tool was an interactive voice response (IVR) system. An IVR will allow you to collect data for a clinical trial from anywhere in the world, at any time of the day or night. All IVR systems use the same interface - a telephone handset with 12 possible responses. What could be better? Worldwide access and a standard user interface that is very simple to use.

Then came the Internet. Now all we hear about is the World Wide Web, the Internet and how IVR is a dying technology. Every clinical trial manager with more than two weeks' experience has heard the electronic data capture (EDC) sales pitch. For the last five years EDC vendors have been saying: "In the next five years, all clinical trials will be paperless". Of course, no-one wants to talk about the costs of outfitting 250 sites around the world with computers, Internet connectivity and end user training. Secondly, what happens in those countries where less than five per cent of the population have access to a computer?

Naturally, both technologies have benefits and limitations. Whilst IVR has a simple interface, it is very cumbersome on complex systems. The web interface can handle a complex system, but at what cost? What if we were able to converge both technologies and create a combination that is better than one on its own? A technology alloy!


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By Kris Gustafson, Director of Interactive Technologies, and Joanna Williams, IVRS Project Director for ICON Clinical Research

Kris Gustafson, BS, MCSE, CNE is Director of Interactive Technologies for ICON Clinical Research. Over the past eight years he has developed hundreds of interactive voice response systems for clinical trials. Kris continues to improve current processes while adapting the current technology to provide trial management solutions.

Joanna Williams is the IVRS Project Director for ICON Clinical Research. She has been involved in pharmaceutical clinical research for over seven years and has extensive experience of designing and managing interactive voice response and web-based systems for clinical trials. Joanna is currently responsible for all aspects of IVRS project management activities at ICON.

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Kris Gustafson
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Joanna Williams
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