What to look for in a CTMS

Sites have a million things to deal with before, during and after a trial. Coordinators and staff have their plates full every day with paperwork, meetings and hundreds of emails. Starting a new study is not easy, but it can be a whole lot less stressful with the right CTMS.

Choosing the perfect CTMS will help your site become more efficient with just about every aspect of study management and site operations.  A robust CTMS should improve study procurement, start-up, initiation, marketing and recruitment, subject database building, re-marketing and patient engagement, study progress tracking, visit tracking, financial management, stipend management, invoicing and collections, provider payments and even MORE.  But evaluating systems can be challenging, so how do you assess which system has more features and the right features that will truly benefit your site and staff to grow your success?

Things to look for in a CTMS:

  1.  Hosting Architecture: Is the CTMS hosting architecture robust to protect your data and provide excellent performance from anywhere?
  2. Compliance: Does the CTMS hosting meet all of the requirements imposed by HIPAA?
  3. System Integration with Advances Solutions: Can your CTMS integrate with advanced solutions such as Stipend Payment Systems, eRegulatory Systems, and eSOURCE systems? What does that integration really look like?  Is it a true integration where one system from a single vendor houses all of the solutions, or is it a connection between two separate systems that are very different and managed by different vendors?  The latter form of integration has limited benefits and still requires sign-on into multiple systems to manage the functions within each.
  4. Database Growth and Management Tools: Does the CTMS allow you to take full medical, medication and social histories of your patients. Can you run comprehensive criterion searches of your database to locate qualified subjects and reach out to them via email, TEXT, and phone?  Does the CTMS have a complete and user-friendly lead tracking capability?  Does it link up to your website and Facebook to capture applications and build your database faster?
  5. Expert Marketing and Re-marketing Features: Website integration, Facebook integration, Mail client integration, Mass TEXT, Direct TEXT, Auto post-application TEXT are just a few features you can leverage to market your site and receive applications from prospective patients through your CTMS. Sites that have an employ these features will be more successful at meeting enrollment goals than those that do not.
  6. Study Progress and Subject Tracking: Does the CTMS help your staff keep up with study progress and subject visit accruals as well as scheduling of all needed staff and providers to appointments?
  7. Robust Scheduling Capabilities: A good CTMS needs to be able to manage the intricacies of scheduling subjects with needed staff and providers who will be involved in the visit. Multiple calendar options such as individual calendars, departmental calendars, resource calendars and a whole-company calendar can be very beneficial to know who is doing what. Additional features such as Outlook integration, recurring appointments, appointment confirmation reporting and more can be little things that make big differences.
  8. Integrated TEXT options: Whether it be appointment reminders, staff reminders, direct TEXTs to subjects, Mass TEXTs for recruitment, automated TEXTs after web of Facebook applications, not all TEXTing systems are created equal. Be sure and ask about all of the features that the CTMS TEXT features include.
  9. Study Documents and Staff Professional Documents Management: Even if you are not a fully electronic regulatory site, your CTMS should still have electronic document capabilities. Being able to store critical study documents such as ICFs, Protocols, Investigator Brochures, and source documents for all staff and investigators to have access to ensures that doctors and staff can quickly reference these important documents when needed.  Maintaining staff documents such as licenses, certifications, trainings, CVs, etc. can streamline staff and investigator documentation management.  Don’t forget about eSignatures!  Some CTMS systems offer eSignatures and Mobile App capabilities standard!
  10. Reporting is King: Collecting data is one thing, reporting information to measure site and staff performance is another. Ensure that your CTMS has robust reporting capabilities that will help managers and site leadership keep a pulse on production metrics that affect success.
  11. User-friendly and Intuitive Interface: Is the platform intuitive and easy-to-use? This is one of the most critical aspects of a good CTMS. If you don’t have site-wide buy-in and adoption of the CTMS, you will never see the full advantage of CTMS benefits and features.  Be sure to bring your staff into the vetting process and make sure that they agree that the chosen CTMS is going to be the one that makes them more productive and brings the staff together.


Whether you already have a CTMS and are looking for a better CTMS solution, or if you are looking to bring on a CTMS for the first time, we hope that you will consider RealTime-CTMS and the host of fully-integrated solutions that RealTime has to offer. RealTime is owned and operated by prior site owners/operators and has thousands of users around the world providing feedback and ideas for newer, better systems. A great CTMS is not built overnight or without the input and collaboration of those that experience the challenges of running a research site every day.

We encourage you to evaluate all of the solutions available because we are passionate about site success and want you to pick the system that ultimately helps you succeed.  We strive to be the best and we hope that, if you ask the right questions, you will see the unparalleled capabilities and value that RealTime has to offer.