While at DIA I was asked an interesting question by Mark Uehling for his Clinpage blog, "what do you think is the future of EDC"?  Kind of an interesting question, and my answer (which I'll let you read in his newsletter blog) was informed by how connected the industry has become in terms of interoperability.

It became obvious at DIA that there are a number of vendors who "get it": it isn't just about their own functionality, rather it is about the functionality that can be gained when linked with the functionality of other companies.  Out of the box. 

Yep: I'm talking about interoperability.  Web Services.  Architecture.  The foundations of which Microsoft has built their current offerings of products on.  It's all about "playing nice in the sandbox" and working with other companies technologies, regardless of the stack that those technologies are utilizing.

Let me give you an example: at a large pharmaceutical company, I've seen a system that takes information from Medidata (via webservices and CDISC), feeds it into their backend SQL Server system (via webservices), allow access to that data for reporting and submission generation purposes (via webservices), and provide dashboarding capabilities from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (via webservices) to their executives so they know what trials are behind schedule and can find out why and intervene.

Another example came from DIA a couple years ago. We did a demonstration with DataLabs (now Clinphone), where we:

  1. Entered data into a "Patient Enrollment" CRF and saved the information. 
  2. Opened up Microsoft Office InfoPath (yes, a forms application from Microsoft!)
  3. Utilized InfoPath to query the WSDL (Web Services Description Language) server and found the Clinphone web service for Patient Enrollment that output information in CDISC format.
  4. Opened up that web service in InfoPath, and populated that form with the data we just entered.

The amazing part was that only three lines of code were required to do that (to query the WSDL server as I recall).

Yep: the now happening wave of interoperability is only happening because vendors "get it", understand that interoperability can only happen when you use Web Services and a data model that people understand.