Software tools and digital technologies have become essential assets to optimize the efficiency of a vast spectrum of clinical research activities and processes. From clinical trials to translational studies with biological samples, software applications play a crucial role in improving clinical operations, data management, and logistics in the clinical research space.
Some examples of typical software applications used in clinical research include Electronic Data Capture (EDC) systems, electronic Trial Master File (eTMF), medical imaging platforms, and research-focused laboratory information management systems (LIMS), among many others.
However, many times all these off-the-shelf, standardized clinical research software solutions are supplied by vendors with a predefined set of functionalities and configurations that may not allow for much customization or integration with other systems. This is where custom software development provides value to customers wishing to implement personalized features and functions, as well as complex integrations with other platforms.
In any case, there are many good clinical research applications already available as packaged software tools, which can work very well at a competitive price. Therefore, the first step before initiating any custom software development project is to verify that the personalized tool is really needed.
What is Custom Software?
Custom software is a software that is specifically designed and developed to meet the unique requirements of a client. It is different from commercial off-the-shelf software tools, which provide a standard set of functionalities that can work well for a broad range of clients.
The Benefits of Customized Software Development
Custom software development in clinical research offers several advantages to organizations and end users working on clinical, preclinical, and translational studies. The main benefits include having a personalized system that ensures cost effectiveness, data security, flexibility, and compatibility / integration with other platforms.
A personalized system
When biotech and pharma companies buy off-the-shelf software applications, these tools may not meet all their specific needs. Developing a personalized system certainly ensures that the technical requirements of the client —both present and future needs— are met.
Developing a custom software may be costly at first —particularly when a high amount of custom development work is required— but this initial effort offers benefits in the long run. Personalized software does not require constant modifications over time to suit client requirements if technical needs have been well defined at the beginning. A well designed system can be used with minor or no investments for a long time.
Off-the-shelf software has —in general— a higher level of exposure to security breaches, intrusions or attacks. Customized solutions that are used by a more restricted number of users, featuring personalized layers of security, can guarantee solid data security measures.
By definition, customized software is inherently flexible. Custom software can be scaled according to the changing requirements of a project over time. However, a standardized, mass-produced software application cannot be modified according to a client’s particular needs. Over time, such software can become too costly and even inappropriate.
System compatibility and integration
Organizations may utilize several tools to carry out their clinical research projects. Custom-built software can take into account this variety of technologies in a company’s ecosystem, and enable increased system compatibility and integration. Out-of-the-box prepackaged software tools (generally designed for a very broad range of clients) can be quite rigid, ruling out the possibility of integration with other related applications.
What Customized Software Tools Does Zlynger Offer for Clinical Research?
Zlynger is a software company specialized in the development of custom web tools for clinical research applications. With more than 10 years of experience in the clinical research industry, Zlynger offers tailor-made software solutions including:
- Electronic Data Capture (EDC) systems for clinical trials
- Web-based patient registries for observational and real-world evidence (RWE) studies
- Software for remote second opinion activities
- Medical imaging platforms
- Teleradiology tools
- DICOM viewers and PACS servers
- Virtual tumor boards for cancer case discussions
- Virtual biobanks for biological sample management
Zlynger has the technical capabilities to build other clinical research software applications not listed above. These can be discussed with each client upon request.
One of the major drawbacks of selecting an off-the-shelf software in clinical research is that it may not satisfy all the technical requirements. Standardized software may be initially cheaper than a custom solution, but its lack of flexibility can become problematic in the long run. Custom software is specifically designed for the current requirements and it can be planned to be scaled up, in order to meet future challenges as well.