September 23, 2021
Site-Ready, Steady, Go! Leveraging Technology to Support Research Staff in the New World of Work
Life Sciences Strategy LeaderGuest
There’s an old saying that when change comes, it comes all at once.
That’s certainly how it has felt over the last couple of years for those of us working with the clinical research industry. Since the pandemic, we’ve seen accelerated adoption of technology solutions as clinical trials shifted to operate remotely. As sites start going “back to normal” we’re seeing the trend continue, with stakeholders considering how to maintain and leverage technologies that have contributed to more efficient trials.
From a personal point of view, it’s fascinating to witness the speed of this technological transformation. In an industry that can be resistant to change, it’s exciting to watch it adapt in real time. But it's also complex to think about technology from different stakeholder viewpoints. This is why I jumped at the opportunity to host the Enabling Sites for Outcomes webinar with Teckro’s Director of Site Strategy Silvina Baudino and Manager of Growth Lydia Beaudette from LMC Manna Research. Our panel discussion was intended to learn more from them on the topic and understand how senior site leaders are managing the wave of new technologies in clinical trials.
During the webinar, we explored a range of subjects, including how to keep sites from becoming de facto “IT support” and how to set up decentralized trials for success. (Hint: patient centricity is the key!) An issue that struck me was one that Lydia raised regarding the future of the site workforce. The shift to work from home has moved entire teams online, seemingly overnight, creating new possibilities and new demands on workers to adapt. To advance clinical research, we must band together and overcome any reticence to using new technology – and fast.
Gaining Early Buy-in for Success
As Lydia discussed in the webinar, a change-orientated mindset is essential when it comes to leveraging new technologies. Because LMC Manna is the largest wholly-integrated research network in Canada with 23 sites, technology solutions are essential for online collaboration across different locations. For example, online, “YouTube-style” training methods have replaced live, quarterly training to support staff.
Lydia has written before about how a “bottom-up” approach with power users is also highly effective to build trust in technology across the team. Peer educators are an also asset for disseminating knowledge. As Lydia pointed out on the webinar, technology must be “site-ready” in the first place to be considered. Intuitive, simple, easy-to-use technology that consolidates many platforms are attributes Lydia looks for in evaluating new technologies. She also ensures that every stakeholder is included in the decision-making process so that a lack of early buy-in doesn’t hinder a smooth transition.
Communication is Key
Another point of friction can be different layers of technology. As Silvina explained, sites and sponsors can choose different platforms. If sites have two or three different trials with the same sponsors and they’re not using the same CRO, then this can mean more training for staff for different tools per trial. To avoid overburdening sites and frustrating staff, leaders must communicate, train and prepare staff to ensure that the technologies are operating as efficiently as possible.
Decisions Driven by Sites' Needs
In her role working closely with sites globally, Silvina has also observed that as the world moves back to “normal,” sites can now afford to be “picky” when choosing technology. They are no longer forced to adapt to operate, as they were during the height of the pandemic and are now evaluating technology with a greater understanding of their own needs in mind. This ability to be picky is also coming up when it comes to recruiting, developing, and retaining workers. More sites are seeing the need to offer flexible work arrangements that account for new ways of working, introduced by the pandemic.
There is another wise saying about change – it provides great opportunity. The pandemic has done what seemed impossible just a few years ago by moving the clinical trials industry into the 21st century. Now, it is time to look to the future and continue to build on the momentum.
Watch the full session on enabling sites for outcomes
Life Sciences Strategy LeaderGuest
Malia is a senior business strategist with a passion for accelerating new ideas, technologies and innovations within the biopharma industry. In a career spanning over 20 years, Malia has led organizations and spearheaded successful projects from R&D, launch planning and market access through post-market growth strategy, execution and analysis.