Portal opens ways for smoother workflows

Perceptive Informatics enhances its eClinical platform with IBM technologies

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WALTHAM, Mass.—Perceptive Informatics, a subsidiary of PAREXEL International Corp., announced in mid-October that it is making further advancements to its offerings by incorporating IBM's WebSphere portal and Tivoli Access Manager into its eClinical platform, which provides support for its eClinical Suite.

Perceptive's eClinical platform incorporates such features as reporting, integration and identity management solutions, and the platform technologies from IBM will enhance this by allowing Perceptive to support more extensive interoperability between its systems and facilitate a single entry point for users. The IBM technologies also provide support for Perceptive's eClinical solutions offered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.

"We have the DataLabs EDC product, IMPACT Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS), the ClinPhone Randomization and Trial Supply Management (RTSM) solution, medical imaging technology and an Electronic Patient-Reported Outcomes (ePRO) or patient diary," notes Dr. Bill Byrom, senior director of product strategy for Perceptive Informatics. "Those span a broad range of capabilities for what's required in clinical trials, but as we look at growing needs, we were looking at how to join those products better and present them more effectively to clients who are using many different technologies at many different sites and are being asked to use many different solutions."

In speaking with ddn, Byrom cited the example of a client in Belgium that was juggling five clinical trials and 17 different pieces of critical technology associated with those trials. Each solution had a different username and password, which is challenging enough to keep track of, but then there are the added problems of managing multiple users and keeping an efficient workflow when users have to keep going in and out of separate applications to get work done.

"To get a full picture of the clinical trial progress and results, people have to keep entering and exiting these separate vertical applications and that complicates the workflow," Byrom says. "One of the things we're really focused on is product convergence, and the IBM technology will help us create a single portal for clients to access multiple products in our solution offerings."

This won't totally eliminate the challenges of juggling multiple applications, Byrom admits, as there will always be reasons to use multiple products from multiple companies, whether because of specific utility or site needs, preferences of the team conducting the trial, financial reasons or otherwise.

He does foresee a day perhaps when the Perceptive portal can accommodate plug-ins from other companies' products and provide an even more useful hub with which to access and manage multiple applications, but he admits that's still "a long way off since we're just in the early stages of this work."

"As the number of technologies used in clinical trials increases, Perceptive is committed to expanding our robust and flexible enterprise platform to meet customer demand for innovative, sophisticated, and easily accessible eClinical solutions," said Nicholas Richards, vice president of product development for Perceptive Informatics, in the news release about the deal. "The solutions Perceptive is developing are fundamentally changing the way technology is accessed and used in clinical trials. Our customers can benefit from foundational technologies that further enhance the capabilities of our eClinical Suite to bring more efficiency to biopharmaceutical development."

IBM's WebSphere portal framework reportedly will sharply enhance the Perceptive Portal enterprise solution, which provides secure, centralized access to clinical trial documentation and training materials as well as a collaboration area to develop related materials.

The portal's reporting engine displays consolidated trial metrics, allowing study performance to be easily tracked using data drawn from multiple sources. Perceptive has incorporated IBM's Tivoli Access Manager to improve single sign-on functionality and this advancement, designed to streamline workflow, eliminates the need for multiple user names and passwords by providing access to various systems with one set of credentials.

Looking toward the portal functionality, the SaaS model and other cloud computing-related functionality is something that IBM has great interest in facilitating as it continues its march into various aspects of pharmaceutical drug discovery, biotech and other life sciences areas. As the computing giant noted in a 2010 report titled, The wisdom of the cloud: Cloud computing in the life sciences industry, "The real value of cloud computing to a research-intensive industry like life sciences is that cloud computing can facilitate innovation. It provides a platform for collaborating with other organizations. It also enables companies to harmonize transactional processes, delegate those processes to a third party and concentrate on differentiating activities themselves. In other words, cloud computing goes far beyond utility computing. It is not just a more efficient way of purchasing computing power but, rather, a way of facilitating new, more efficient business models."

McKesson taps IBM to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost pharmaceutical supply chain efficiency

By Jeffrey Bouley

ARMONK, N.Y.—Playing into its A Smarter Planet program, IBM will be teaming with McKesson Corp. on an initiative aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions and trimming drug distribution costs, using analytics technology to improve the effectiveness of McKesson's North American pharmaceutical distribution network. While it falls a bit outside the drug discovery and development area, it is the kind of thing that budget-conscious pharmas may also want to consider when it comes to supply chain matters with distributing materials/reagents to global operations, moving products in the manufacturing and commercialization stages of their work, and so on.

IBM says that McKesson is the first drug company they know of to be doing something like this, breaking new ground by using IBM's new Web-based analytics offering—called the Supply Chain Sustainability Management Solution (SCSM)—to simultaneously minimize both its carbon dioxide emissions and its distribution costs.

The new technology McKesson is using was developed in collaboration with IBM Global Business Services and IBM Research mathematicians and draws on McKesson's supply chain, sales and geographic data to create "what-if" scenarios that are helping in decision-making concerning distribution network modeling, supply planning, inventory positioning, vehicle routing and sustainability management.

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