In an era in which the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy emphasizes the need for a stronger clinical trial infrastructure to improve health outcomes, integrating Electronic Health Records (EHR) with Electronic Data Capture (EDC) systems is becoming increasingly pivotal. I had the opportunity to discuss EHR integration with Joe Lengfellner, Senior Director, Clinical Research Information Technology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Our conversation focused on how EHR-EDC integration revolutionizes clinical trials, aligning with national goals to enhance research efficacy and patient care. This interview delves into the transformative effects of this integration on clinical trials, data management, and the broader healthcare landscape.

How is EHR Integration with EDC Transforming Clinical Trials at MSK?

Joe Lengfellner: At MSK, we’re witnessing a paradigm shift in clinical trial data management, primarily driven by the integration of EHR with EDC systems. This integration streamlines the process of data collection and management. Traditionally, clinical trials were bogged down by manual data entry and extensive source data verification, but with EHR and EDC integration, we’re now able to automate the transfer of patient data directly into the trial database and minimize data monitoring. This not only saves time but also enhances data accuracy and integrity.

What are the Major Benefits of EHR Integration with EDC?

Joe Lengfellner: The benefits are manifold. Firstly, there’s a significant reduction in the data management workload for research coordinators, as they no longer need to enter data manually. This leads to improved efficiency and allows them to focus on more critical aspects of the trial. Secondly, it reduces the number of queries and potential errors, ensuring higher data quality. This is beneficial to both sites and sponsors. Lastly, it’s cost-effective, minimizing the need for extensive manual labor and potential corrections.

Joe Lengfellner
Joe Lengfellner Senior Director Clinical Research Information Technology at MSK

Can You Discuss the Challenges Faced in Implementing EHR-EDC Integration?

Joe Lengfellner: The main challenge lies in the initial setup and standardization. Integrating two complex systems requires careful planning and execution. Additionally, getting buy-in from all stakeholders, especially ensuring data privacy and security, is critical. In the past, institutions like ours also faced challenges in scaling these initiatives, particularly when dealing with sponsor-related changes in leadership or budget constraints.

How Does Ignite Data Contribute to This Integration at MSK?

Joe Lengfellner: At MSK, we have partnered with IgniteData, a participant in the MSK Innovation Hub program, as our provider for EHR-EDC technology. The IgniteData platform handles the mapping complexity between the EHR and EDC in a simplified and reusable manner. This is critical to creating a scalable solution. They also have a strong understanding of the specific challenges that sites such as MSK face, making them a great collaborator throughout the process. Their expertise in data management and their robust technology facilitate seamless integration, ensuring that we can manage the increasing data demands of our complex trials efficiently.

How Do You Measure the Success of EHR Integration?

Joe Lengfellner: Our success metrics include the reduction in time and effort required by research coordinators, the decrease in data queries, and overall cost savings. Additionally, we focus on staff satisfaction post-implementation, as improved job contentment can lead to lower turnover rates.

What Future Trends Do You Foresee in EHR-EDC Integration in Clinical Trials?

Joe Lengfellner: The future is promising. We anticipate a broader adoption of EHR-EDC integration across various clinical research sites, sponsors, and CROs. This will become the industry standard, an expectation in modern clinical trial operations. As the technology evolves, we expect to see more advanced features, such as managing more unstructured data and providing real-time data to sponsors and regulatory bodies, which will benefit patient safety. This will streamline clinical trials and pave the way for more personalized and efficient patient care.

What Advice Would You Give to Sites Planning to Implement EHR-EDC Integration?

Joe Lengfellner: Identifying a champion at a site is key; someone to help engage and motivate the internal stakeholders is needed to get to the finish line of implementation. This includes a minimal technical team and managing change management and training for the research teams. In addition, EHR-EDC implementation is a great opportunity to build strong relationships with sponsors. Having sponsor conversations early in the implementation is important and can open opportunities to discuss other technology initiatives between a site and a sponsor. Finally, it’s important to choose the right technology partner, someone who understands the unique challenges of clinical trials and can offer scalable solutions.

Closing Thoughts

This in-depth conversation with Joe Lengfellner provides a clear view of clinical trials’ current and future trajectory. The integration of EHR systems represents a strategic shift toward more efficient, data-driven clinical research. As the industry navigates these changes, insights from leaders like Joe are crucial in guiding the way forward. Integrating technology in clinical trials is not just a trend; it’s a necessary evolution to meet the growing complexities of modern research.

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Moe Alsumidaie Chief Editor
Moe Alsumidaie is Chief Editor of The Clinical Trial Vanguard. Moe holds decades of experience in the clinical trials industry. Moe also serves as Head of Research at CliniBiz and Chief Data Scientist at Annex Clinical Corporation.