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Transforming Clinical Trials

By Study NeedBy Study Role

October 8, 2020

Clinical Quick Reference Guides: The Ultimate, On-Demand Quick Reference Tool

This is Part 2 in a series

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      Cayce Drobek

      Cayce Drobek

      Clinical Operations Leader


    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.

    Here's how...

    Clinical Quick Reference Guides

    Virtual coach to help with decision making.

    Teckro gives investigators and research staff a self-service way to find answers, such as eligibility, treatment and adverse event handling. It also connects research staff and CRAs with study teams and medical experts who can help guide them with helpful tips to limit protocol violations and deviations.

    Additionally, research staff can receive critical updates through Teckro, which is more secure and compliant than ad hoc channels like email, fax, text and voicemails. Teckro becomes that single source for study answers and the latest information. And with push notifications, users receive an alert that there is a new message.

    Clinical Quick Reference Guides

    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.

    The "old" tricks to create an Excel sheet with procedures in columns and visits in rows takes time to create. But there are issues with this approach, starting with how long it takes to create this file. And how is it maintained? Where is the file stored and how accessible is it at the point of care?

    With Teckro, simply type in “visit schedule” and the instructions are returned from the correct version of the protocol. Or more precisely, you 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.

    Say Goodbye to Old-Fashioned Cheat Sheets

    There is a lot more that Teckro can do to give monitors and study teams incredible insights into what is happening with their trials. We’ll save that for another day.

    For now, I hope I have shown you how we can finally replace cheat sheets, quick reference guides, and lengthy FAQ logs with Teckro. All study questions can now be answered by a digital pocket protocol, making Teckro the ultimate version of a 21st Century quick reference tool.

    Cayce Drobek

    Cayce Drobek

    Clinical Operations Leader


    With over 15 years of industry experience, Cayce has expertise on clinical site operational efficiencies, engagement and analysis as part of delivering patient-focused experiences.