This case study examines how the introduction of Castor EDC, an online platform for capturing medical research data, has led to a spectacular improvement of research data quality at one of the most prominent university medical centers in the Netherlands – Radboudumc. Within two years, the number running studies on the platform studies increased from 60 to 1,000 which was the result of a significant rise in the adoption of Castor EDC by all researchers. This high adoption rate is mainly attributed to the platform’s user-friendliness, high-quality customer support, and continuous updates with new features.
Through interviews with representatives of the management at Radboudumc, this case study draws attention to the underlying benefits of Castor EDC, which make it the ideal partner for any medical institute. Among its most notable advantages is its compliance with all regulations (including GCP and 21 CFR Part 11), its ease of use – allowing researchers to build their own study without technical skills – and its affordability.
For medical institutes and hospitals, good data management is often a challenge. The existing multipurpose tools for electronic data capture (EDC) within the medical research world are cumbersome, not researcher-friendly, and often prohibitively expensive. At the same time, the general-purpose tools such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and Google Forms aren’t meant for medical research. They are insecure, prone to data leaks, and not compliant with Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines.
Castor EDC is an innovative online tool that accelerates the process of importing, exporting, and capturing data for medical research. Castor EDC was designed by healthcare professionals who experienced issues with research data management firsthand.
Castor EDC’s mission is to make medical research faster and smarter by providing any researcher worldwide with reliable, secure data capture and helping them to standardize their data, so it has value for the scientific community beyond their projects. Castor EDC already accomplished this at Radboudumc, the University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands, where in two years time the number of studies has soared from 60 to 1,000 and continues to grow.
Radboudumc is one of the frontrunners in medical research that has been contributing to innovative, sustainable, and affordable healthcare in the Netherlands and the rest of the world for more than sixty years. With almost 10,000 employees, 3,500 students, and yearly 3,300 scientific publications, Radboudumc ranks among the world-class University Medical Centres delivering high-quality participatory and personalized healthcare.
Before the adoption of Castor EDC, Radboudumc used a tool that required continuous support from the central research office. They regularly needed a specialist’s help to build their study. Since Radboudumc periodically had to hire specialists to help researchers maintain the software, they found it was time-consuming and expensive. Additionally, there were potential weaknesses in data analysis, as researchers risked making errors while manually copying their data from the hospital information system into their studies. This “gradually incited uproar among them,” Ariaan Siezen, Project Leader Radboudumc, explained.
A significant hindrance for Radboudumc, as for many other medical institutes, was the lack of reusability of the data. 85% of medical research data is never reused due to poor data quality, lack of standardization, and inaccessibility of data to other researchers. This has a two-fold negative effect: 1) impeding cooperation between researchers as they do not know if anyone else is working on a similar project and 2) research institutes losing the unique scientific insights that result from running analyses across standardized datasets.
Two years after the adoption of Castor EDC, Radboudumc has seen the number of running studies increase from 60 to 1000 with a total of 1600 happy researchers using the platform.
The management perspective
According to Siezen, Castor EDC is the perfect partner for any medical institute because of its innovative features and continual optimization which are always researcher-inclined. The primary benefit for both the management and the researchers at Radboudumc is that Castor EDC is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations for clinical trials and the European Data Protection Directive (and the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation). “We can finally comply with all regulations and laws, and we have all the benefits of having a system which supports us with our data management.”
Siezen believes that the critical success factor of Castor EDC is the central contract it offers to medical institutes. Instead of paying separately per study, there are no direct costs for researchers for each new study they start under the central agreement. This lowers the barrier for researchers to select a GCP compliant system for data capture and leads to increased data standardization. This ensures rapid adoption of the tool throughout the institute.
Siezen advised other institutes: “Get a central contract, so nothing holds researchers from using Castor EDC and all its benefits.”
The researcher perspective
The researchers at Radboudumc are relieved they no longer have to deal with the problems they experienced before the adoption of Castor EDC. They can create studies that comply with all regulations and can be easy if necessary. They also consider the quick responses to any questions they have a huge advantage of Castor EDC. The researchers often mention that customer support is easy to access and that they receive an answer to their questions within one hour. Additionally, they appreciate that their questions are understood and interpreted in the right way.
The researchers are provided with all the materials they need and have the opportunity to do online and/or on location workshops, where the Castor EDC team can teach them the basics of the tool within 3 hours.
The ease of use of Castor EDC is another main prerequisite for the researchers’ satisfaction. “With over 1,000 studies, I only get some requests to assist. All researchers can simply build studies on their own, and it is so intuitive that they do not need help,” Remco den Ouden, Radboudumc Information Management, explained.
The main reason for institutes and companies to procure an institute license is to increase data quality, compliance and data safety throughout the organization. The platform’s high adoption rate ensure rapid improvements in these three key areas in a short amount of time.
Furthermore, site licenses unlock access to a suite of advanced tools to make research more efficient. They can use Castor’s premium Encryption module to encrypt their medical and identifying information with military-grade encryption at the field level, they have access to the groundbreaking digital consent platform ‘MyConsent’ to manage patient consent, and they can sign up for on-site workshops and training to help them make the most of the platform.
Conclusion and looking forward
The Castor EDC team believes in the power of an independent researcher with tailor-made support. That’s why it utilizes technology in its mission to make reliable and secure data capture available to researchers worldwide. With a mission accomplished at Radboudumc and 84 other renowned institutes around the world, Castor EDC is more motivated than ever to keep making medical research faster and smarter at institutes around the globe.