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The Cost of EDC vs Paper – Documented Clinical Trials

June 28, 2023

The field of clinical research has undergone significant advancements in recent years, particularly in data management practices. Electronic Data Capture (EDC) has emerged as a valuable alternative to traditional paper-based documentation in clinical trials. This article explores the benefits and drawbacks of EDC compared to paper-documented clinical trials, highlighting the transformative impact of digital technologies in the realm of medical research.

Paper Documented Clinical Trials

Traditional paper-based documentation methods have been the backbone of clinical research for decades. These methods involve collecting data on paper forms, which are subsequently transcribed into electronic formats for analysis and reporting. Many researchers are accustomed to paper-based systems and find them intuitive. 

Familiarity with paper documentation may reduce training time and ease the transition into clinical trials. Paper documents do not rely on internet connectivity or advanced technological infrastructure, making them accessible in areas with limited resources. Additionally, paper records can be physically stored in multiple locations, mitigating the risk of data loss. Unfortunately, there are a couple of glaring drawbacks to paper-based clinical trial documentation.

Paper documentation is susceptible to transcription errors, illegible handwriting, and missing information. These issues can compromise data quality, leading to inaccurate analysis and delayed decision-making.

Additionally, paper-based data collection and entry require significant time and effort. The manual nature of these processes increases the likelihood of human errors and slows down data analysis and reporting. Paper documents also require physical storage space and can be vulnerable to loss, damage, or deterioration over time.

The Rise of Electronic Data Capture (EDC)

In the past, clinical trials were primarily conducted using paper-based systems, which involved the manual collection and storage of vast amounts of data. However, with the advent of EDC, researchers now have access to a digital platform for capturing, managing, and analyzing clinical trial data.

Advantages of EDC

  1. Enhanced Data Quality: EDC systems offer built-in validation checks, real-time edit checks, and automated data range verification. This significantly reduces data entry errors, leading to improved data accuracy and integrity. Additionally, EDC platforms allow for direct data entry, eliminating the need for transcription, thus reducing the potential for errors even further.
  2. Efficient Data Management: EDC streamlines the data management process, enabling real-time data collection, monitoring, and analysis. Researchers can track data discrepancies promptly and resolve issues in a timely manner. This accelerates the overall trial timeline and facilitates quicker decision-making.
  3. Cost and Time Savings: EDC eliminates the need for paper-based data entry, transcription, and archiving, resulting in substantial cost and time savings. Researchers no longer need to handle records physically and store paper documents, reducing administrative burdens and enabling more efficient resource allocation.
  4. Data Security and Accessibility: EDC systems offer robust security measures to protect sensitive patient information. They provide role-based access controls, audit trails, and encryption protocols to ensure data confidentiality. Furthermore, EDC allows authorized stakeholders to access data remotely, facilitating collaboration and reducing geographical barriers.

How EDC Lowers Clinical Data Collection Costs

Clinical research plays a vital role in advancing medical knowledge and improving patient care. However, conducting clinical trials can be a resource-intensive process, with data collection being a significant cost driver. The adoption of Electronic Data Capture (EDC) systems has revolutionized data collection practices, offering substantial cost savings and increased efficiency. Read on for how EDC lowers clinical data collection costs, benefiting both researchers and sponsors.

Streamlining Data Collection: Traditional paper-based data collection methods are often associated with manual data entry, transcription, and verification processes. These labor-intensive tasks consume valuable time and resources, contributing to increased costs. EDC eliminates many of these manual processes by providing a digital platform for data entry, management, and analysis.

Reduction in Labor Costs: EDC systems automate data entry, eliminating the need for transcription and minimizing manual verification tasks. This reduces the time and effort required from study staff, resulting in significant cost savings. Research personnel can focus on more critical tasks such as patient monitoring, study coordination, and data analysis.

Improved Data Accuracy: EDC platforms incorporate built-in data validation checks and edit controls, reducing data entry errors and discrepancies. This eliminates the need for costly data query resolution and rework associated with paper-based data collection. The improved accuracy of EDC data reduces the resources required for data cleaning and enhances the overall quality of the trial results.

Eliminating Paper-Related Costs: The shift from paper-based documentation to EDC also eliminates various expenses associated with physical documents.

Reduction in Printing and Storage Costs: Paper-based clinical trials require substantial printing costs for study protocols, case report forms (CRFs), and other documentation. Additionally, physical storage and archiving of paper records entail ongoing expenses. EDC eliminates the need for printing and allows for digital storage, significantly reducing these costs.

Decreased Shipping and Courier Expenses: In multi-site trials or those conducted across different regions, the transportation of paper documents can be costly. EDC systems enable instantaneous data transmission and remote access, eliminating the need for physical shipping and courier services. This not only saves costs but also accelerates data availability and analysis.

Enhancing Efficiency and Timeliness: EDC streamlines data collection processes, improving overall trial efficiency and shortening timelines.

Real-time Data Entry and Query Resolution: EDC allows for direct and immediate data capture, reducing delays associated with manual data entry and query resolution. Queries can be raised automatically for missing or inconsistent data, enabling investigators to address issues immediately. This enhances data completeness and accuracy, leading to faster database lock and study completion.

Remote Monitoring and Site Oversight: EDC systems enable remote monitoring and real-time access to data, eliminating the need for frequent on-site visits by monitors. This reduces travel costs, saves time, and enhances the efficiency of site oversight. Sponsors can remotely monitor study progress, identify trends, and promptly address concerns, optimizing resource utilization.

Overall, EDC streamlines data collection processes, enhances data quality, and accelerates the overall trial timeline, making clinical research more efficient and enabling quicker decision-making.


The adoption of Electronic Data Capture has transformed clinical data collection, offering substantial cost savings and improved efficiency compared to traditional paper-based methods. EDC eliminates manual data entry, transcription errors, and associated labor costs, while also reducing printing, storage, and shipping expenses. 

The real-time nature of an ideal EDC enables faster query resolution, remote monitoring, and more efficient site oversight, accelerating the overall trial timeline. 

As the healthcare industry continues to embrace digital transformation, EDC stands out as a cost-effective solution that enhances data quality, streamlines processes, and ultimately contributes to more successful clinical trials. But not every EDC can match the requirements of a modern clinical trial. Introducing Octalsoft’s EDC solution, your one-stop shop for all your data capture software needs. Interested in knowing how Octalsoft’s EDC can streamline your clinical trial data and ensure 10X accuracy? Book a Demo with us today.

Hiren Thakkar

Hiren Thakkar

This piece is co-authored by Nishan Raj, Senior Content Writer at Octalsoft.

Hiren Thakkar

This piece is co-authored by Nishan Raj, Senior Content Writer at Octalsoft.
He is dedicated to empowering businesses to achieve their goals through innovative and cost-effective solutions. He bears a unique ability to implement simple solutions for even the most complex problems. With extensive experience working in several industries including more than a decade in pharma & clinical research, he’s not just an expert, but a visionary, who understands the potential of technology and knows how to leverage it for clients’ success.

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