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Transforming Clinical Trials

By Study NeedBy Study Role

January 17, 2023

Why Value-Led Design is Essential for Clinical Trial Technology Solutions

We sat down with Teckro's Rob Alves to discuss his role as a senior product designer and why it’s important for product design to be value-led.

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      Rob Alves

      Rob Alves

      Senior Product Designer


    We sat down with Teckro's Rob Alves to discuss his role as a senior product designer and why it’s important for product design to be value-led.


    Tell us about the product design landscape?

    Product design is a pretty new discipline in tech companies compared to other areas. It all started with the need to create better looking interfaces, and now the main purpose is a user-focused approach to design. I've been working with design for more than 10 years now and it is interesting to see how the landscape has changed. From the famous iOS skeuomorphism design trying to mimic reality to the opposite on flat design, interfaces have been changing over the years to improve the user experience. These days, product design aims to deliver more than nice interfaces, the real focus is to solve users’ problems and address their needs.


    What made you want to design for Teckro?

    Like most of the people that work here, I was drawn into the mission of modernizing clinical trials and the potential impact I could make towards improving the lives of people. While the company mission, vision and values are set from the top from our leadership team, it was clear that they filtered down into each department – understood, adopted and infused into the outputs those teams were working on delivering. I found this refreshing and it complements the way I like to approach my work. Alongside that, the team here at Teckro is exceptional, and we are all extremely excited about the work that we do.


    What goes into designing a software product?

    First, we need to find out who our users are. For Teckro, this is anyone that works in the clinical trial setting, from clinical research associates and clinical research coordinators to medical monitors, principal investigators and study managers. Our users may see numerous patients day to day, supervise a dozen studies, or manage hundreds of sites.

    Once we know who our users are, we need to understand their needs, problems and frustrations. We regularly conduct user research and talk to as many users as possible, as well as harvesting information from the many Teckro employees who have professional clinical trial experience. This helps us build a picture to establish the areas we can offer value and ultimately make our users’ lives easier.


    What are the design principles you work by?

    Teckro’s founding principles are:

    • Mission: To modernize and simplify clinical trials.
    • Vision: To engage every physician in clinical research.
    • Values: Make an impact. Do the right thing. Be responsive.

    Drawing on these, product design adheres to seven main design principles:

    1. Start with the problem: We focus on the root cause of a problem to ensure we are providing a solution that truly addresses our users’ needs.

    2. Build on research: We take time to understand our users, their problems and their environment. Using this research helps us create better products.

    3. Think big, start small: We are ambitious with our vision, but realistic with our first step. We try to deliver value as quickly as we can.

    4. Usability over aesthetics: Our first job is to design something that delivers value, then we make it beautiful.

    5. Keep it simple: We do the hard work to make things easy. While we always strive for innovation, we also consider conventions our users are familiar with.

    6. Provide clear visibility: At any given time in our product, it should be clear what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen next.

    7. Work as a team: We deliver a better product when we embrace ideas from people in different disciplines and encourage constructive criticism.


    Are there any unique factors to consider when designing software for the clinical trials industry?

    We always remember the high stakes involved for our users, at every level. Clinical trials are increasingly complex, with many stakeholders, and tight budgets and timelines. Our software has the potential to improve the operational success of a clinical trial – if it delivers as anticipated. Everything we do is vigorously tested and validated before being released to users. The clinical trials industry is also heavily regulated, so we need to make sure that everything we deliver is compliant.

    Additionally, clinical trials are tech saturated – and that’s coming from the boots on the ground researchers working on them. It’s well known that site staff are overrun with software options for their trials, often with multiple platforms per study and different platforms mandated by different sponsors. This understandably leads to frustration, dissatisfaction, and ultimately poor adoption of the technology. As a tech vendor in this space, we are mindful of the current climate at research sites and the sentiment being broadly expressed about clinical trial technology. This is again where we draw on our mission and values – to ensure we offer simplicity, are responsive to need and are truly making a difference with our solution, not just adding to the problem/tech stack.


    Why are design principles important and what is the end user benefit of product design being value driven?

    These principles are good practice and keep everyone aligned, but for Teckro, they’re also derived from our company ethos and values, helping to ensure these are front and center in the design process. They ensure consistency across teams and remove the need to debate simple decisions, freeing up time for us designers to focus on more complex problems.

    As a cohesive, value-driven team, our end users receive a product that is not only secure, compliant and extensively tested, but also simple, intuitive and created with their needs as a priority. We continually strive for growth and welcome any feedback or ideas on how we can better support our users, so they can better perform their roles in clinical research.

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