In 2013 I set myself some ambitious targets for the year, start the MBA and complete two marathons.
Evenings and weekends were set aside to practice admissions tests, research training plans, write school applications and run. Run for miles and miles. Effective running training includes a mixture of longer runs for endurance and shorter runs for speed. Planning the types of run, recording my times and tracking my performance was time consuming! But time was on my side. By summer I had completed one marathon and gained acceptance to business school. I was on track.
Autumn was an exciting time. I was introduced to thought leaders like Porter, Drucker and Deming (my favourite). There were a succession of lectures and events to attend as well as assignments to be completed. But with 10 weeks to go, time was no longer on my side. The goal of a second marathon was slipping away. My approach needed to change or I would have to give something up.
Luckily, we live in a time of technology! With a few basic inputs about myself and my goal for the race into a web application, I received a personalised session by session plan. Text and email reminders were sent before a run to remind me what was planned and how to warm up and prepare for that days efforts. My own personal trainer, telling me when to speed up, slow down, jog, run and walk.
No need to remember my training, plan my training, worry that something was missing from my training. All I needed to do was open my browser, follow the direction and run.
As Longboat is focused on improving clinical trial efficiency, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between my marathon training and how site staff juggle the day-to-day of clinical practice with clinical research activities:
- Each clinical trial protocol is unique, with its own intricacies.
- Each visit is different with its own set of procedures.
- Increased protocol complexity leads to the increased chance of protocol non-compliance.
- Increased workload leads to the increased chance that sites will not recruit.
- Lots of planning, organising, scheduling and remembering.
Coordinators spend hours recreating the wheel, developing ineffective structures with Excel files and Outlook reminders to help manage their research activities, exactly as I had done with marathon training. Some don’t have the time to develop these structures and ultimately don’t recruit.
Luckily, we live in a time of clinical technology! At Longboat we have created a platform that gives your site staff the right information at the right time. The platform:
- Trains staff on the essential elements of the protocol to ensure compliance.
- Generates a 21 CFR part 11 compliant record of training and communication.
- Gives individualised step-by-step essentials of each patient visit.
- Reminds staff of upcoming visits and essential advance preparation.
- Promotes engagement with the study to drive recruitment.
The core message behind the running platform was not to train harder, but smarter. Instead of worrying about the risk of sites using guesswork and reducing compliance, remove that risk by giving them the information they need in a format they can use during patient visits. This will ensure quality data, while allowing site staff focus on what’s really important – patient care.
In Autumn 2013 I made friends with Porter, Drucker and Deming while also completing the marathon 20 minutes quicker than my previous attempt. When running your clinical trial, run smarter not harder.