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Blog
Oct 08, 2020
Part 2: Clinical Quick Reference Guides – The Ultimate, On-Demand Quick Reference Tool
In Part 1 of this blog series Clinical Quick Reference Guides - When “Quick” Isn’t Fast Enough, I talked about how clinical trial study teams have tried to help research staff manage with quick reference guides, aka "cheat sheets.” I never want to discourage efforts that support research staff as they need help on the frontlines to keep clinical research going. But the data shows that these cheats sheets really don’t result in dramatic time savings or reduce effort for site staff. So the question is: Why keep doing something that doesn’t work? In this blog, I want to challenge study teams to think differently about how they can really help research site staff. We’ll look at a new approach to quick reference guides that are more akin to how investigators, study coordinators and CRAs operate in their daily lives. (Spoiler alert: it starts with a smartphone.) Aren’t we in the 21st Century? I recently saw a post online by an individual in the clinical research industry asking for tips or methods for learning and retaining protocol content in order to increase efficiency.  Tips she got back from the community ranged from:    Printing the protocol and highlighting and/or adding tabs to sections Taking notes in OneNote or handwriting them Creating cheat sheets Using FAQ logs Creating an Excel sheet with the schedule of assessments Doing a PDF CTRL+F search of the protocol And then I thought to myself, Are we not in the 21st century?! Admittedly, some of the people who did comment called themselves “dinosaurs” and that their methods were “old school.” However, this young woman asking for guidance is starting off on the wrong foot. We rely on our smartphones to manage just about everything in our lives. And both information and interactions with our friends, families and colleagues are just a swipe on our phone away. And the great thing is no one has to be particularly tech savvy to benefit from a smartphone. Research staff getting answers to study specific questions should be as easy as taking out a mobile device from a pocket and asking a question – just like they do to find out the weather forecast or to send a quick message to a friend. Teckro – 21st Century protocol in your pocket The idea of cheat sheets, quick reference guides and FAQs is to give research staff fast answers to common questions. The limitations are that they are generally on paper, inconveniently stored, and outdated when there are study updates or protocol amendments. So what if we take this idea of fast answers and make them always available whenever an investigator, study coordinator or CRA has a question. What if the search for answers analyzed only current versions of the protocol and other study documents. And what if it was just in your pocket on your smartphone, where you instinctively go for any other answer. This is Teckro. It is the study protocol in your pocket. But unlike paper documents, it is also a lot more. It gives a wealth of insight that is particularly useful for study teams and monitors. On-demand answers that aren’t high maintenance. Teckro is always the right, approved version of the protocol. Amendments are handled seamlessly in the background so sponsors don’t need to worry if sites are referencing the most current version. CRAs don’t have to spend time to distribute amendments. And site staff (or study teams) don’t have to spend time creating cheat sheets. Saving just a few hours per week or per month is very valuable.  If you multiply that across all the studies happening at any given time, it could add up to days of improved productivity and more time to spend with patients. Schedule of assessment that is actually simple. As I mentioned above, one of the old tricks to make the schedule of assessments understandable is to create an Excel sheet with procedures in columns and visits in rows. Now this brings a host of problems, starting with the time it takes to actually create this file. And then, how is it maintained if there are changes? And where is the file available – on a desktop computer tucked far away from where treatment occurs? With Teckro, simply type in “visit schedule” and the instructions are returned from the correct version of the protocol.  Or more precisely, someone could type in “visit 14” and the procedures for this visit are returned in seconds. Study teams can also proactively send reminders or other timely guidance to research staff to help coach them for a given visit. This can help to reduce deviations and also improve the quality of care in accordance with the protocol.
Blog
Aug 27, 2020
Part 1: Clinical Quick Reference Guides - When “Quick” Isn’t Fast Enough
We spend a lot of time talking about complexities of clinical trials. But take a moment to consider, what actually is making things complex? First, there is the fact that the number of clinical trials is skyrocketing. From 10 years ago when there were 100,212 trials registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, it is now projected that there will be more than 348,600 trials in 2020. The sheer volume alone puts pressure on research sites to support the needs of the industry.
Blog
Nov 08, 2019
#STEMDay “Never Stop Being Curious”
The lack of women today in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs is a problem. We believe with more role models and positive examples of women succeeding in technical roles, we can change this. To honor STEM Day, we spoke with Teckro Director of Clinical Operations Cayce Drobek about why she pursued a STEM career and her advice to encourage more girls into fields of science and technology. By way of background, Cayce studied at Middle Tennessee State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mental health and biology. She went on to complete two master’s degrees, one in microbiology and a second in clinical research. Cayce has more than 12 years of professional experience in clinical research, working on numerous Phase I-IV trials. In addition, Cayce also worked with multiple contract research organizations (CROs) and investigative clinical trial sites, and she is a Certified Clinical Research Associate. Now, Cayce is applying her domain expertise at Teckro, where among other roles she has managed teams responsible for the quality and accuracy of the clinical research content in the product. Cayce, what first prompted you to go into a technical role? I have always been drawn towards science, math and technology. I have always been a very curious individual with a strong desire to constantly increase my knowledge. Even as a young child, I loved playing with my microscope and was always conducting experiments in the hope of making exciting new discoveries. I still love conducting experiments, trying new things, and making discoveries to solve everyday challenges in my personal and professional life. Because of my passion for science, I studied biology as an undergraduate, and then microbiology in graduate school.  While in school, I worked as a study coordinator for obstetrics and neonatology trials.  In this role, I experienced many of the common clinical trial challenges that site staff face every day. I ultimately developed and rolled out new processes at the research center with the help of technology to reduce some of the burdens on the staff. I’ve worked with multiple technology systems in my years in clinical research roles. While many of these technologies were aimed at reducing my day to day work-related burdens, there was still a need for simplification. This is Teckro’s mission, and I wanted to be a part of a solution that could really simplify how trials are conducted. Did you have any special encouragement, or role models when you started out? My mother is the primary reason for me pursuing a career in clinical research.  While I was in graduate school, she unfortunately was diagnosed with cancer. Caring for a loved one with cancer was extremely difficult. Thankfully, after participating in a clinical trial at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, my mother had complete remission. I was so grateful that she had this opportunity and I’m now extremely motivated and passionate about being a patient advocate. I work to make these types of clinical trial opportunities available not only for those who have cancer but for all types of diseases and disorders. What does a career in a STEM field mean to you? Science is not just a job; it is a passion. If your career is something you enjoy doing, you will lead a happier and more productive life. Working in a STEM field provides me with the thrill of new, exciting discoveries. It allows me to travel the world solving global challenges. It gives me broad, marketable skills. And I believe it increases my career opportunities, not just in biology or clinical trial-specific roles but in also roles for technology companies who need clinical trials subject matter experts. I’ve become a better problem solver and gained a better understanding of how things work. And not least of all, it’s fun! What advice would you give to young women considering a STEM career? Never stop being curious! For young women interested in pursuing a professional degree and career in a STEM field, I would recommend starting off by doing some independent research into what education and opportunities are available. You can also join organizations that advocate for girls and women in STEM, such as those listed on Girls Who STEM. One of my favorite quotes is from Mae Jemison, the first female African American astronaut to travel into space: "Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It's your place in the world; it's your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” We are naturally born with a desire to understand how and why things happen the way they do. This desire drives us towards science, which provides us the path to illumination of the many mysteries of the universe.