If you work in the life sciences industry you have likely come across the term “clinical trial intelligence” (CTI).  I had only heard of clinical trial intelligence for the first time less than a year ago, and I remember thinking how abstract the phrase sounded.  

“What does it mean?”, I thought. “Is it a piece of software or a concept? Who is it for? What is intelligence in the first place?”

I wasn’t alone with my questions. Now I talk to people everyday about CTI, and have learned that evened season veterans in the industry have a tough time defining it.

I’d like to revisit the fundamental questions I had about CTI and answer them for our readers. Even if you think you have a strong grasp on CTI, read along. There may be applications for it you haven’t even thought of. After all, CTI tools such as BrackenData’s are constantly being developed, so reviewing the fundamentals will help understand what’s possible. Follow along as I describe the scope of CTI and explain what it is, who it’s for, and why it’s so beneficial to many teams within the industry.

What Is It?

On a high level, CTI is the consolidation of clinical trial data to inform decisions surrounding clinical development. Online registries such as ClinicalTrials.gov or EudraCT are technically a medium of clinical trial intelligence. So is your brain, if you have widespread knowledge on the subject. But CTI refers to a piece of software that mines and visualizes more information about trials, sites, and sponsors than any free source or individual can offer.

CTI vendors consolidate millions of datapoints from clinical trial data sources to surface relevant data to a user via an interface. This relevant data could be a list, such as all studies with active trial sites in Madrid. This data could be a specific piece of information, such as the contact information for a clinical trial program manager. The data may even live in a visualization, such as trials plotted on a timeline by start date, or plotted on a map by recruiting centers. The information presented is known as intelligence.

But "intelligence" can also be a play on words that describes a systems capabilities. A CTI user puts queries into a CTI system, mostly through toggling filters and interacting with visualizations. A user might use a combination of filters that has never been used before. Therefore, CTI system designers must architect their tools with the ability to answer questions that haven’t even been thought of yet. This capability is coined intelligent.

Who Is It For?

With such volume of data to be leveraged, and with such computing power to filter and visualize data, CTI is applicable to almost any type of organization in the clinical trial industry. The following types of teams are ideal users:

  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • CROs
  • SMOs
  • Biotech companies
  • Patient enrollment agencies
  • Medical device companies
  • Clinical supply companies
  • Imaging core labs
  • Clinical trial software vendors

Above are the types of companies that have clear applications for a CTI system. Let’s narrow our focus, by looking at the most prevalent type of users at these companies and why they use CTI.


Why Is It a Big Deal?

By using big data, a CTI system can draw both macro and micro insights. It can build a visual or table using millions of datapoints, or quickly surface very specific pieces of information.

It goes further. A CTI system can build new data for a user’s needs by inferring relationships between information. This is known as custom data.

For example, we created a version of our TrialFinder dashboard for the medical imaging community called TrialFinder Imaging. This tool can look at all the trial protocols in our database using a method known as “semantic text analysis”, and identify if the trial involves an imaging modality. From here the tool can tell which imaging modality the trial uses, such as MRI or CT. The result is being able to filter for trials that use an MRI or CT, and add this new layer to our existing visualizations. We are working on similar dashboards that can drill into information like Route of Administration (ROA) for the drug in development, or the size of a sponsor by market cap and number of employees.

TrialFinder Imaging Produces a list of U.S. trials starting the last 6 months using MRI or CT

TrialFinder Imaging Produces a list of U.S. trials starting the last 6 months using MRI or CT

Whether it’s macro, micro, or custom data, the user of a CTI system is leveraging the data to drive impact for their business. The impact comes from aiding activities that generate revenue, save time on large research processes, or save costs by informing operational decisions.

In another blog post we share 3 examples of CTI providing powerful business impact. These examples describe how a well-designed CTI system can empower a user to:

  • Drive revenue growth by finding and winning new business targets faster
  • Improve quality of clinical development planning by better understanding market landscape
  • Identify optimum locations for patient enrollment

Read that full post here.

Too Broad to Bundle

Clinical trial intelligence is a broad topic. Trying to concisely describe what it is, who can use it, and what it can accomplish is difficult. Because a CTI tool looks at millions of datapoints, and can create new datapoints by drawing relationships from information, the possibilities are boundless. Our goal for this blog post was to provide some clarification around the concept of CTI, but we’re certainly not done writing about it. If there is a topic in here you’d like us to write more on, or you have a question, leave us a comment at the bottom of this page.

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