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Jim Bob Ward, CEO and President, Datatrak International

Jim Bob Ward: Empowering Clinical Teams with Innovative and End User Friendly Solutions

The healthcare industry has been experiencing a bout of turbulence in the past year and a half but has been on the upswing. Many organizations were dealt the arduous task to meet the growing demands for powerful performance analytics to manage clinical trials. It was also essential for them to find a way to eliminate the need for a lengthy, complex implementation process. With the help of technological advancements, industry experts came up with solutions that were as straightforward as possible. Jim Bob Ward, the CEO and President of Datatrak International, Inc. founded a successful solution to make clinical trials flexible by enhancing its applications to virtually engage patients and staff.
Jim Bob is an investment activist, passionate entrepreneur, and pioneer responsible for developing one of the Internet’s first cloud-based development platforms in 1994. He is the original inventor of the Datatrak SaaS Cloud platform. His 30 years of experience has created cloud-based technologies and businesses within the Life Science, Market Investment, Insurance, Mortgage, Real Estate, and Agricultural industries.
In an interview with Insights Success, Jim Bob shares his entrepreneurial journey and his contribution to the healthcare industry through Datatrak.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Give us a brief overview of your position at Datatrak International and your journey since the inception of the company.
Datatrak was the first clinical research electronic data capture (EDC) company established back in 1991. By the mid-2000s, the software had reached the end of its life cycle as the industry migrated to the ‘Net for global software service’ delivery. In 2006, Datatrak acquired my company Clickfind as their cloud-based standard. Technically, Clickfind eClinical was a single login, multitenant and multi-lingual, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for clinical research. With my IP, we were the only company to defeat Datasci’s industry-wide litigation. We were revolutionaries defining early CTMS and EDC, complete with a visual designer, randomization, medical coding, supply management, and remote ECG and image capture. I left the company in 2008 to raise four boys backpacking the world. In 2015, I met Alex Tabatabai, whose fund was heavily invested in Datatrak. Mutual frustration and excitement for the future led to a proxy challenge and the two of us taking on Datatrak in 2016. After replacing the board and leadership, we refocused the company on innovation, which brought us to profitability and NextGen solutions for a post-pandemic world.
Please list the popular services that make your company stand out from the competition.
The one and only Datatrak difference is our enterprise platform that unifies team collaboration with vertical integration across applications to prevent service delivery gaps that delay clinical trials. With the centralization of clinical trial data, our system provides an enhanced experience for all parties involved, from decision-making to site satisfaction.
As the CEO, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Computer Software Industry?
COVID-19 created the largest recession since the 1930’s depression. The nature of social isolation brought about cultural disorder and inequity that pitted individual rights against public safety needs. Pandemic fears stopped patient site visits, disrupting 70% of global clinical trials across 194 countries. The economic results would have been devastating without the FDA’s guidance that opened the door to emerging smart technology for remote patient data capture. Today, their guidance had advanced the industry to adopt team collaboration platforms with AI predictive analytics for modern “hybrid” data capture from sites, labs, and remote patients.
What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?
People are the number one asset to an organization. A corporate-owned culture requires equity and transparency without unnecessary barriers to communications. Datatrak adopted a remote workforce model early on to provide flexibility for our employees. However, the fear of isolation encouraged us to put in place employee programs with incentives and recognition.
What is your thought on the necessity for businesses to align their offerings with newer technological developments, especially when it comes to creating digital software for clinical trials?
I truly believe “innovate or die” is still the rule in today’s competitive global economy. Technology for clinical trials must be self-configurable with unlimited scalability to meet the changing needs of organizations working from the cloud. The result must be focused on enabling global team collaboration for the benefit of patient advocacy.
In what ways have you contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring into making eClinical Solutions Simple?
We simplify the complex by streamlining workflows to reduce costly service delivery gaps between clinical applications. There is no longer a need or desire for an array of different systems and integrations when one platform can do it all. One example is that our platform is able to anonymize and import medical images directly into EDC for radiologist assessment, adjudication and even import DICOM data directly into electronic case report forms (eCRFs) for the last mile to FDA submission. Simple things can cut the setup and training time between redundant PAC to EAS by 50%. The same is true for delivering decentralized trials that automatically integrate smart app data with hybrid site and core lab data. Our latest challenge is to invent new AI models that can learn from predictable outcomes to provide intelligent workflows within our eClinical solutions.
If given a chance, what change would you bring in strengthening the progress of the Life Science industry?
Datatrak has provided innovative technology and unmatched services, aiding our customers on their journeys to increase efficiencies and reduce error rates. In addition, our clients can move on to create unmeasurable benefits for people in need with life-changing discoveries. We can strengthen progress by working with pharma, medical device, and biotech leaders as technology partners focused on patient efficacy. Datatrak is constantly innovating and looking to the future to ensure that we are prepared so that our partners and clients can bring breakthrough therapies to market faster.
In your opinion, what could be the future of Clinical Data Management? And how are you strategizing Datatrak International operations for that future?
The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Clinical Research and Development will be driven by Big Data Analytics and AI from the historical site, lab, patient, and device-driven data that’s growing exponentially in realtime. The magnitude and scale are beyond perception, requiring a new generation of data scientists and machine learning models to predict patterns and trends, leading to better planning, data analysis, and faster trial results. It’s the future, and with 18 years of structured clinical data, we are developing performance algorithms, dashboards, and design tools to enable our clients to derive data visualizations for forecasting, trends, statistics, and much more.