February 21, 2023
Clinical Research Experience and Truly Useful Clinical Trial Tech
Clinical Research ManagerTeckro
We talk to Siobhan McKenna, Teckro clinical research manager, about harnessing the unique approach of experienced frontline clinical researchers and how this translates to functionality that truly addresses site staff needs.
Can you tell us a little about your experience and why you wanted to join the team at Teckro?
My background is in nursing, and I then moved into clinical research in 2005, primarily as a study coordinator. I worked across multiple therapeutic areas and phases, including first-in-human (FIH) studies. I once remember using a platform for an HIV study that I was working on. The visits were clearly laid out, and I found it really useful and reassuring to be able to view all procedures in one place. However, there was some extra information in there that didn’t make sense for the trial. It made me think that whoever put these visits together had either never worked in clinical trials or had very little insight into what was involved.
I remember thinking that it would be great to work on the tech side of the industry because I’d have the experience and knowledge required to ensure trial staff got exactly the information they needed, presented in a way that was helpful. After some research I found Teckro. I completed my master's in clinical research design in London, moved back to Ireland, and applied to join the team. I have been working at Teckro now for over five years as the clinical research manager for a team of clinical research specialists (CRS).
What are the most complex and burdensome aspects of being on the frontline of clinical research?
Ensuring that as a researcher you’re working within the realms of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) – research activities and protocol adherence are very different to working within the standard of care process. Understanding documentation and following the protocol to the letter (avoiding deviations) can be challenging, especially for more novice research staff. Referring to and accurately following long, complex schedules of assessments within a hefty protocol document, particularly on studies with multiple schedules, is just one example where researchers are at greater risk of protocol deviation.
Effective communication has also always been difficult within clinical trials, in part because resource provision can be so different. For example, some sites might have one phone and computer per person and a fax/photocopier machine within easy access, whereas others might only have one phone to share across eight people, a handful of computers for everyone, and a fax/photocopier machine four floors away from where it’s needed. For busy, overwhelmed researchers, insufficient provision of communication tools hampers access to their study team, especially for support with critical decisions at the point of care. It’s worth noting that even when a site has ample phones and access to computers, traditional approaches to communication in clinical trials are slow and not always secure or compliant.
How can tech be a powerful tool for making a typical day as a clinical researcher more simple and more efficient?
Clinical trial tech should make the process easier, simpler and faster. It is broadly understood that site staff are overwhelmed by clinical trial technology, often with multiple platforms, portals and passwords to use across the studies. It’s important that tech adds value and helps solve existing problems clinical researchers are facing, rather than just adding to site load. This means tech designed and built with the users in mind – something my colleague Rob talked about recently. We all use an assortment of tech and software across all aspects of our lives, and the clinical trial industry has always been a bit behind the curve on this. When clinical trial tech is fit for purpose, it can help connect study stakeholders, support protocol compliance, and enhance site engagement and performance, all while providing a positive user experience.
What does clinical research experience bring to Teckro, and why is this valuable?
The CRS team at Teckro all come from clinical research backgrounds; we have a great mix of experience across a breadth of therapeutic areas, trial phases, and multiple countries. We understand the pain points of a clinical trial and are passionate about ensuring that Teckro is optimized for each study. We’re very familiar with clinical trial documentation and resources – what they are, when they are used, and by whom. Our clinical experience means the documentation provided by each sponsor can be reviewed and validated after digitization into Teckro to ensure content integrity is preserved. We also determine the optimal format and layout of the information so that it is clear, easy to follow and logical from a researcher perspective.
This same clinical research experience enables us to accurately determine the most appropriate related content to surface for any keywords or phrases searched for in the study resources. Unlike the anecdote I shared earlier of confusing and unrelated information found within a visit schedule resource, our team at Teckro has the knowledge to appropriately “map” a potential user journey through the available study information. In collaboration with sponsors, we use our collective knowledge to connect and collate appropriate selections of associated resources that a researcher might need. Teckro's user interface then harnesses this knowledge – surfacing those resources to our users working on the frontline of clinical trials.
What are some examples of how users benefit from your work?
Teckro aims to simplify clinical trials. We help reduce site staff burden by making all current, accurate study information available in one place, and accessible from a secure app on their mobile device. As this information is digitized, it’s searchable (and not like the rudimentary CTRL+F or on a PDF).
When a keyword or phrase is entered, Teckro intelligently searches the entirety of study information and returns all applicable results across all available documents and resources. Furthermore, when a search result is viewed, users will also see related study content for their search term – a collation of closely associated useful information that can guide further reading and support next steps. If they still have questions, researchers can launch in-context conversations with a team of medical experts directly from within their search results, which can be answered and resolved via a secure integrated messaging channel, at the point of care. This is especially valuable for novice researchers who may not work in a highly supported environment.
This “content mapping” is seen across Teckro – the schedule of activities (SoA) is accessible from the Teckro homepage, laid out in a simple, intuitive format and links directly to procedure information within the protocol, meaning researchers have access to the guidance they need, when they need it. “Quick Links” are also available on the Teckro homepage, and provide fast, easy access to the most commonly used sections of the protocol, for example inclusion/exclusion criteria, concomitant medications, adverse events.
What are your hopes for Teckro in the future?
Teckro is enabling digitally interconnected clinical trials. Each protocol in Teckro acts as a key that unlocks a breadth of resource, communication, and data touchpoints across the whole study lifecycle, benefitting all stakeholders. Ultimately, this supports study success, helping advance clinical research more broadly and get treatments to market, faster. I am enjoying seeing the continued evolution of Teckro from when I started over five years ago.
I would love to see Teckro used in every trial clinic across the globe. Sites already tell us how much they love Teckro, and as we continue to grow and add more functionality to our product, I can see it being recognized as a “must have.” My team and I will always maintain our objective of ensuring that Teckro users are supported, informed and empowered, enabling them to contribute their best work to the invaluable role they play within clinical research.
Learn more about the real-world experiences around Teckro
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