IBM Clinical Development Blog

How EDC Improves Clinical Team Communication

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 28, 2015 2:06:00 PM / by Amy Young

Topics: Industry Insights, EDC, Crisis Communication Plan

The Top Line:

  • EDC systems are becoming essential trial communication conduits
  • Optimize workflows and team interaction through modularization
  • Make use of EDC to advance corporate culture

RowersLook at your mobile phone. Do you have the latest, greatest app-laden smartgadget? No worries if you don’t. Using a device that is two or three generations old is no big deal.

In clinical research, though, it’s different. Ensuring your team has access to and is up to speed on the most recent data management software advancements is critical. Your technology backbone may not be on public display, but in a time of ever-expanding expectations, that backbone can make or break your ability to attract and retain clients.

EDC and digital communications are no longer considered novelties in clinical research. Besides improving data management and adherence to study protocols, the right EDC product can help improve delegation, reduce conflict and increase satisfaction and esprit de corps in your organization.

Comprehensive Message Tracking and Storage

EDC platforms can facilitate more effective – and selective – two-way communication among all staff members involved in a trial. And when communication is better across your team, the quality of their work and your organization’s performance will be better, as well.

Many software platforms now include internal communication tools that help teams stay in sync throughout the study’s lifespan. Functioning alongside other study management tools, these features log and store all trial-related communications within the EDC platform itself (rather than relying solely on your site’s general email system). Messages are searchable by date, subject, source and recipient as well as by keywords. Critical updates, protocol changes and assignments reside within the platform, helping ensure that important information and directions never get lost.

Modularization and Optimization

Similar to consumers who bypass cable service and select individual programs they want at a fraction of the usual cost, the latest generation of EDC software allows you to choose – and pay for – only those features you require, when you need them.

This modular approach lets you tailor the databases, workflows and communications precisely to your site and the specific trials you’re conducting from the get-go. The outcome is unparalleled information exchange among study staff that’s simplified and streamlined. Counterproductive reactions to protocol or process modifications (such as “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this before?”) are appreciably reduced through the enhanced communications and more immediate issue resolution these systems offer.

You can also optimize delegation by exercising control over who sees what. EDC systems integrate role-based permissions to access and modify files, saving time fulfilling information requests from other staff member and giving them access to information upon which they can act. This function also helps you ensure you stay on top of how the trial is progressing and who on your staff Is responsible for what.

Mapping Collaboration

EDC enables cleaner data creation and makes aggregating and directing the right information into the hands of the people who need it easier.

Think of EDC as Google Maps. Zoom in close, and you can examine the details of specific features, functions and outcomes. Pan out, and you can see how individual components interact with one another and easily identify significant patterns that otherwise might be hard to detect.

Seeing the bigger study picture in one place helps plot out the study plan, enabling clear lines of delegation across multiple sites and various levels of research staff (CRAs, nurses, doctors, technicians, etc.). Visibility into the entire trial permits study managers, clinical directors and investigators to spot potential issues earlier, set up internal checks and create reports to test and modify procedures.

The latest EDC platforms also can give a “street view” into your trials so you can examine specific aspects at a granular level. More user-friendly navigation and logic-based search options reduce frustration levels by helping you find exactly the data you want.

Manual vs. Automatic

Manual transmission cars can be a lot of fun on the open road. In rush hour, however, they can be a royal pain. Similarly, legacy EDC systems that require intensive manual data entry and manipulation can drag your study – and staff members – down.

Keeping the time between the end of data collection and implementation to a minimum requires deft synchronization. Non-cloud-based EDC platforms usually require time-intensive manual synchronization of data using equipment that’s hard-wired to the system.

A cloud-based system works differently. It automatically synchronizes the data directly to and from any Web-based device, allowing data managers to identify and communicate issues with the field team during data collection. This allows real-time data from all projects sites to flow from collection to implementation more rapidly.

Data and Team Building

As CROs add technology to their operations, different skill sets are emerging to increase efficiencies and streamline processes. Advanced IT that supports cross-functional talents and enhances cross-functional communication helps CROs and sites evolve and nurture their cultures to attract and retain the right kind of employees.

Just as you can load an app and access a world of information from your smartphone, evolving EDC capabilities let CROs do more, see more, and manage more to succeed in an environment that demands more. 

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Amy Young
Written by Amy Young