October 6, 2022
Happy 10th Anniversary SCRS! - Jimmy Bechtel
Vice President of Site Engagement at Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS)Guest
Jimmy Bechtel, vice president of site engagement at the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS), joins the podcast ahead of the flagship annual Global Site Solutions Summit in Florida. As SCRS marks its 10th anniversary, Jimmy reflects on milestones and accomplishments, including how SCRS is leading from the front on clinical trial diversity. Jimmy also shares his thoughts on the challenges that lie ahead.
“We were one of the first organizations to recognize the need that was coming out of clinical trials for there to be a more diverse patient representation in the data and the outcomes of those clinical trials.”
HANNAH LIPPITT: Hello and welcome to the Totally Clinical podcast brought to you by Teckro. Totally Clinical is a deep dive into the freshest trends, big-time challenges and most excellent triumphs of clinical trials. I'm Hannah, your host. Join me as I chat with industry experts, trailblazers, thought leaders and, most importantly, the people benefiting from clinical research. So, tune in, settle back and don't touch that dial. It's time to get Totally Clinical.
HANNAH LIPPITT: This week, Jimmy Bechtel, vice president of site engagement at the Society for Clinical Research Sites – SCRS – which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, joins the podcast. Now, Jimmy's journey is very interesting. He started as a finance intern at a clinic, quickly realizing he could make a difference in clinical research and made his way up the ranks, ending up at SCRS. And Jimmy's relationship with Teckro goes way back, interacting with our CEO Gary during the early days, witnessing Teckro develop as a product from the start to today.
In this podcast, you'll learn more about why SCRS was founded, its finest accomplishments, hopes for the future, and much more. Welcome to the podcast, Jimmy. Could you start by explaining more about how and why you came to work at SCRS?
JIMMY BECHTEL: Absolutely. Thank you, Hannah. As you had mentioned, I started early in my career as a finance intern at a local clinic in the area in which I was residing. That clinic just so happened to also have a clinical research department. At the conclusion of my internship, the position for data specialist and patient recruiter – an entry level position – became available and my prefect for my internship told me that would be an excellent opportunity. It paid a little bit more than minimum wage at the time, so I jumped at the chance to do that right out of college and never looked back. The research had instantly become something that I found I was very, very interested in. And even in a position such as that, I found the work to be dynamic and truly exciting as to being able to contribute to the development of medicines. From there, I found myself working at Eli Lilly and company, which is where on their clinical innovations team I was able to meet Gary and the Teckro group very early on in its inception as we had worked with Teckro on the products that they were developing at Lilly, so that's how that journey crosses over again, as you had mentioned there. And then from there, I had an opportunity to work with SCRS.
Throughout the duration of my career, both at the site and at Lilly, I interacted with SCRS in various different capacities. I was on one of their site advocacy groups at the site level and with SCRS the clinical innovation team that I worked on was the ones liaising pretty closely with SCRS. So, I was able to position myself to develop – continue to develop – the relationships that I had built at the site and when it came time for a new, exciting adventure with SCRS, I jumped at the opportunity and have again worked my way up through SCRS, coming on as a project manager under Christine Pierre, the late founder, and now making up some of our executive leadership team at the organization.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Let's start with the SCRS mission and why it exists.
JIMMY BECHTEL: SCRS’ mission is to unify the voice of the global clinical research site community for greater site sustainability. And the key word in that is, I think, “unify the voice” as well as “site sustainability.” And that really focuses on our purpose and everything that we do. That mission is stood up by four pillars: to advocate, to mentor, to educate and to connect. So, everything that we do – all of our programs, our projects and really the outcomes of the work that SCRS does as an organization of sites – is stood up by those pillars and goes to support them.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Could you explain more about SCRS’ major accomplishments?
JIMMY BECHTEL: We have several accomplishments. As one can imagine, the list is quite long, starting as early back as an organization that was really the child of the Site Solutions summits. Now we put on Site Solutions summits every year – put on five of them – but we were born out of those summits. Those summits that Christine put on really shed light onto the fact that one weekend a year was not enough to solve the challenges that faced sites and threatened their sustainability. So, as SCRS was founded 10 years ago as a result of those. So, I guess in one way you could say that the founding of the company was one of our major accomplishments as a result of that. And not too many years ago we also liked to highlight the founding and development of the SCRS diversity program. We were one of the first organizations to recognize the need that was coming out of clinical trials for there to be a more diverse patient representation in the data and the outcomes of those clinical trials. It was tremendously more valuable to enable diverse patients on those studies. So we founded that with the intention of helping sites get the information that they needed. And the tools and the resources to find and recruit more diverse patient populations. Up until recently, we had a new initiative focused on digital innovation and technology in clinical trials, and we call that the Digital Innovation Initiative. And we're lucky to have Teckro representation on that – Silvina participates in that program with us – and that one is focused on what sites need to know and what information will be valuable for them. Tools, again, and resources around, really, decentralized clinical trials. That is the, I guess, the most pressing and current need for digital innovation, advocacy and education at the site level. So, we're focusing on what sites, again, need for successful participation in decentralized clinical trials.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Now, as you previously mentioned, you've had a long relationship with Teckro. You also talked about Silvina, our director of site engagement and the Digital Innovation Initiative. Could you explain more about how the relationship has developed over the years?
JIMMY BECHTEL: It's been a very exciting and positive path, SCRS’ relationship with Teckro – and mine – really having just interacted with Teckro in a different way. Back at Lilly, it was more of a product discovery and learning and advising each other on what could be done to have a successful product from Teckro. That really was the clinical innovation department's main job, was to help advance clinical trials through some of the partnerships that we could develop. And SCRS focuses on that in a different way, but with a similar purpose, right? Again, looking towards site sustainability. So, for those organizations that are also interested in that mission and that purpose that we have, they partner with SCRS through that Global Impact Partnership program that you had mentioned, and Teckro is one of those partners. And it's been great to see Teckro become more and more involved over the years, particularly through Silvina and her continued advancement into what we're doing and her getting involved directly with some of the initiatives and some of the programs. So, that Global Impact Partnership is a front-facing way for involvement and investment into the clinical research sites. And then the participation of Teckro into some of the programs like the Digital Innovation Initiative is a way that can be more directly felt by the community. So, it's been excellent to have Teckro as a partner that continues to grow stronger and stronger in advancing site sustainability because in the end it really does affect everybody in the enterprise.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Now, this month, as you've mentioned, SCRS celebrates 10 years of advancing site success at the Global Site Solutions Summit in Florida. Could you explain a bit more about the event and what will be going on?
JIMMY BECHTEL: Global Site Solutions Summits are really what I call our flagship event. They are, as I had mentioned earlier, what SCRS was founded on. What the organization that company came out of was that opportunity for sites, sponsors, CROs and professional service providers to come together in a environment that allows and facilitates and encourages collaborative and constructive conversation. We don't talk about molecules. We don't talk about human resources and recruiting and hiring away. We focus on identifying challenges that exist in the industry and as its namesake states, finding solutions for those challenges.
We go as far as starting the conversation off at that opening bell for that summit to say, we are not here to gripe and to complain. We're here to identify and define solutions for those challenges, so, if you're going to come to the table with a challenge, come to the table as well with a solution, and be open to finding and identifying those as a team, as a group. A lot of the content, if not all of it, is formatted in a multi-stakeholder format. So, you'll see most of the sessions are comprised of panelists and presenters that represent those different constituency groups. So, we can have a multifaceted conversation about what's going on in the industry. So, that really is what the spirit of that weekend is about. It's about collaboration, it's about making new friends, meeting new people, and working with those new people on solving the challenges that we see existing in clinical trials today.
HANNAH LIPPITT: I love that. So, no complainers need apply then?
JIMMY BECHTEL: That's exactly right.
HANNAH LIPPITT: So, here's the next 10 years and looking to the future, what are SCRS’ key goals over the decade – or even just the next couple of years?
JIMMY BECHTEL: A lot of what SCRS has really identified as being a key area in which we can help the community even further is not only to continue to focus on standing up those four pillars that I had mentioned earlier as we continue to advance work and projects and initiatives in the industry, especially things that are very current and very present to the research site, such as the workforce challenges – and again, some of these challenges around technology – but also where SCRS can sit as being an organization that gets the industry and the sites data and information that they need to be successful.
There's a lot of work that can be done on projects and initiatives to give resources and tools, but the other side of that coin, SCRS feels, is the data that those sites and the community need to see, but also the data that the industry partners need to see on behalf of the sites. This is something SCRS has done for a while now in what I would say, small capacity, a few surveys here and there or things along those lines such as the Site Landscape Survey that has really become an industry cornerstone for data representing the sites. But SCRS wants to take that a step further and show really some of the important pieces of information that represent the site community so that we all can work together to solve some of those problems using constructive data.
The other side of that is, again focusing on what we can do to solve some of the problems around technology and workforce more directly. You'll see here in the next several months, including some exciting announcements at the global site solutions summit around what SCRS has been able to do and what we are going to launch, for lack of a better term, at the summit pertaining to both of those challenges. So, exciting things to look forward, just even in the short term, but SCRS recognizes that these problems aren't going to go away any time soon and despite some of our best efforts, we are moving the needle, but there continues to be work done in workforce, in technology as well as – as I mentioned – diversity in clinical trials as well. So exciting to see what SCRS will be doing in those arenas in the next couple of years.
HANNAH LIPPITT: Here's to a great event then and thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Jimmy.
JIMMY BECHTEL: Thank you, Hannah. It was a pleasure to be here and a pleasure to work with you and all of the Teckro colleagues. Thanks again.
HANNAH LIPPITT: And that's your dose of Totally Clinical. You can download our podcast on Apple, Spotify and Google. Please subscribe and leave a rating and review so more people can find the show. See you on your next visit and remember to bring your friends. Thanks for listening. Goodbye!