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Evaluating clinical trial management systems: a simulation approach

Céline Bérard (Coactis, University of Lyon 2, Lyon, France)
L. Martin Cloutier (School of Management, University of Quebec at Montreal, Montreal, Canada)
Luc Cassivi (School of Management, University of Quebec at Montreal, Montreal, Canada)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 27 January 2012



If the use of information technology (IT) supporting clinical trial projects offers opportunities to optimize the underlying information management process, the intricacy of the identification and evaluation of relevant IT options is generally seen as a complex task in healthcare. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to examine the problem of ex ante information system evaluation, and assess the impact of IT on the information management process underlying clinical trials.


Combining Unified Modeling Language (UML) and system dynamics modeling, a simulation model for evaluating IT was developed. This modeling effort relies on a case study conducted in a clinical research organization, which, at that time, faced an IT investment dilemma.


Some illustrative results of sensitivity analyzes conducted on error rates in clinical data transmission are presented. These simulation results allow for quantifying the impact of different IT options on human resources' efforts, time delays and costs of clinical trials projects. Notably, the results show that although the technology has no real influence on the duration of a clinical trial project, it impacts the number of projects that can be carried out simultaneously.


The research provides insights into the development of an innovative approach appropriate to the evaluation of IT supporting clinical trials, through the use of a mixed‐method based on qualitative and quantitative modeling. The results illustrate two critical issues addressed in the IS literature: the necessity to extend IT evaluation beyond the quantitative‐qualitative dichotomy; and the role of evaluation in organizational learning, and in learning about business dimensions.



Bérard, C., Cloutier, L.M. and Cassivi, L. (2012), "Evaluating clinical trial management systems: a simulation approach", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 112 No. 1, pp. 146-164.



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