Clinical Trials – Making SharePoint Awesome

Graham Whittle

Clinical trials are the life-blood of drugs companies. Every year, millions of dollars are invested in to research, hoping to transform the lives of patients (whilst topping up the pharmaceutical company accounts in the process).

Although they can be life changing, clinical trials are also a significant cost burden for these companies. Anything that can help reduce costs attracts a lot of warranted attention – not least among IT Directors and Clinical Trial Directors – for whom reduced costs would be close to achieving Nirvana and finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow at the same time!

This is where Microsoft SharePoint comes in. It’s hard not to be impressed with the contribution that SharePoint has made to the pharmaceutical industry. In this highly regulated environment, there is a strict need for compliant content, document generation and distribution to support the business need for reporting, business intelligence analysis, and of course, an audit trail.  And it here that SharePoint shines. These capabilities naturally lend themselves to clinical trials which require the coordinated management and fast access to data by supporting teams and trial participants often based in multiple countries (each with their own regulations).

So, if SharePoint is so great, why isn’t everyone using it?

Whilst many pharmaceutical and life-science companies have already adopted SharePoint, it wasn’t a small task to get running. With applications designed around a distributed component framework, SharePoint deployments can be highly complex, with often hundreds of different sites relying on shared compute and network resources.  Add in the requirement to integrate SharePoint with other critical applications such as SAP and Salesforce, operating effectively in this kind of environment, requires the coordinated effort and attention of various IT teams.

And if this wasn’t challenging enough, clinical trials introduce another layer of deployment complexity with the need for customisation (code, integration, service mix, workflows, etc.) with SharePoint effectively acting as a business-critical application development platform. Add in clinical trial sponsors integrating SharePoint in a piecemeal fashion, rather than positioning it at the center of their trials – you can see how easy it is to lose out on many of the benefits that SharePoint brings.

Now imagine that we’ve overcome all of these issues

SharePoint is deployed, it’s integrated with the back-office systems and we’re running half a dozen trials all around the world. Participants are happy, researchers are happy and the business is happy. At this point, however, something as common as delayed network connectivity, a degraded file transfer or poor quality of rich media distribution between sites represents a huge risk to your trial. Suddenly, people can’t do their job any more. Poor SharePoint performance visibility and control leads to inefficient decision-making, slower business processes and growing costs. Given its distributed nature, troubleshooting and pinpointing SharePoint performance issues is a complex task.

Operationally mature SharePoint deployments require a full understanding of the end-user experience, the impact on critical transactions (such as registering medication side effects) and the business performance of the underlying infrastructure. This means that your business stakeholders need to be aware

of how their network or virtual servers are performing, and to identify issues before they impact their end-users.

And this is where you come in to your own

Your clinical trial customers are invariably running SharePoint integrated business applications to track their trials. Riverbed’s Application Performance Platform is a fully integrated solution for SharePoint application infrastructure performance visibility and control. By providing end-to-end visibility across their complex IT infrastructures, including the SharePoint stack, and by providing an application-defined approach to SD-WAN you can enable your customers to cost-effectively manage their clinical trials.  Customers leveraging the Riverbed solution have seen SharePoint application response time go from minutes to seconds, bandwidth demands reduced by more than half and a significant reduction in the resources and time required to identify and resolve performance issues.

So if you think that your customers are having challenges managing their clinical trials, click here to learn more about how Riverbed’s solutions portfolio can help win the ‘SharePoint’ day.  Don’t forget, your Riverbed Channel Sales Manager is also available to help you succeed.

Isn’t it great to know that you’re just one step away from helping your IT Directors and Clinical Trial Directors find Nirvana and that elusive pot of gold?