CTMS applications are complicated pieces of technology. Most CTMS vendors offer multiple CTMS products, which contain differences that appeal to different types of healthcare organizations. At an introductory level, it’s easy to get lost on a website or in a sea of information sheets, and knowing which product of configuration is right for you can seem impossible. At a high level, CTMS applications can be split into site-level and enterprise (management) level systems, with obvious nuances that sometimes combine the two. Below are some questions you can ask yourself to help understand where you fall on the spectrum. Keep in mind that these answers are not always accurate, as every research organization is different!
Does your organization conduct research without reporting to another office or department?
If you answer “yes,” you likely are conducting research as a business (like a research site) or within a department of a larger organization that isn’t taking research orders from anywhere else. In these cases, you would likely benefit from a site-level CTMS that doesn’t require integration with an enterprise-level system.
Do you conduct no research, but are looking to track progress and finances of the non-owned sites you work with?
If this is the case, your role in the process may be reminiscent of a sponsor or CRO. Since you are not conducting research, nor are you working with entities you own, you would need an enterprise-level CTMS. These systems allow your partnering organizations to transmit relevant information to your central office, where everything is aggregated into reports that help you make the best business decisions.
Does your organization conduct AND manage your own research?
If so, you may qualify for a system that contains site-level and enterprise-level attributes. Some vendors allow their site and enterprise offerings to integrate in a way that makes information transfer smooth and accurate. If this short description sounds familiar, make sure to talk with vendors and really describe your organizational structure; this way you’re ensured to receive the most optimal solution for your organization.
Regardless of your organizational makeup, it’s important to know that CTMS systems vary greatly. If you’re just starting the research process, make sure you have your goals and needs clearly laid out! Best of luck!!