Are research sites at their breaking point?

Research teams today rely on a vast electronic ecosystem: software, applications, and spreadsheets all housing diverse, complex data. And yet, while having multiple tools is intended to support productivity, research staff are instead experiencing “technology overload.” It’s no wonder that it can take three months and cost $25,000 to train a new clinical research professional1 – the learning curve is high because sites have to log into more than 6 platforms for an average study2, and that’s not even accounting for the fact that teams often manage multiple studies at once!

It’s a wonder how the clinical research industry even got to this point - in what other profession is it routinely acceptable for employees to learn a double-digit number of systems just to get through their day-to-day? While the research workforce has shown remarkable adaptability, the industry may be reaching a threshold, if not already. Indeed, the “Great Resignation” hasn’t left the clinical research industry unscathed, putting sites into a tailspin; too many hard-to-use technologies for understaffed teams is a recipe for high turnover and burnout.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Clinical research teams can address technology overload and burnout in two ways: 1) adopting an advanced CTMS, and 2) ensuring that their CTMS is intuitive and easy to use.

Clinical Research and Turnover Rate

What is a CTMS and how can it address technology overload?

A clinical trial management system (CTMS) is a site-centric solution that can help simplify site operations, from study planning to closeout3. As a central hub, a CTMS is crucial to not only improve overall site efficiency, but also to address symptoms of burnout by eliminating tedious, repetitive work that slows down site staff. In fact, an advanced CTMS should:

  • Digitize and organize complex workflows (so study staff don’t have to)
  • Eliminate redundant tasks by seamlessly integrating with other systems
  • Easily visualize and track the financial health and revenue of a study

In other words, a CTMS improves research site operations and workflow handoffs by acting as a single source of truth across research and finance teams.

Stressed healthcare worker sitting in front of a computer with a spreadsheet

How can a user-friendly CTMS improve burnout in clinical research?

Software alone isn’t enough to truly combat burnout in clinical research. The user-friendliness of health technologies — or rather, the lack thereof — can worsen staff burnout and turnover within clinical research, and endangers the ability of sites to deliver.

To understand the importance of user-friendly technologies, consider what is at-risk without it:

Quality and safety

Studies suggest that “clinicians who work in multiple care settings using disparate technologies may struggle with the differences in interface design, with adverse impact on patient safety.”4 In a world where research teams are working in many different systems, sub-par design can impede accurate data collection, adversely impact the precision of research, and ultimately, expose patients to unnecessary risk.

Cost minimization

Given the proliferation of various clinical technologies, site staff waste a significant portion of their valuable time on system trainings, when they could be focused on actual research. What use is buying any eClinical technology with all the bells and whistles, if these features are difficult to find, sync, and use?

Optimal productivity

Easy-to-use technology can also influence productivity: well-designed interfaces speed work, while poorly designed interfaces steal minutes from busy schedules.”4 This is critical for research organizations managing weary staff and facing costly onboarding from high turnover.

What makes a CTMS easy to use?

The pillars of user-friendly technology are effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of the intended user.5 That last piece – satisfaction – is one that if overlooked in a CTMS, may literally come at a cost to research teams.

For research and finance teams who are frustrated with clunky, outdated systems, SignalPath by Verily is an intuitive and easy-to-use solution developed for researchers, by researchers. From our Google/Alphabet heritage, we bring best-in-class UX practices and principles to build the most intuitive, accessible workflows possible. The SignalPath CTMS ensures:

Precisely the right information for each team member

Managing a clinical studies portfolio requires coordination among members of the research, finance, regulatory, and leadership teams. With this in mind, SignalPath helps teams implement intuitive workflows by serving the right information granularity to each stakeholder. Researchers can quickly forecast the daily and weekly flow of patient schedules from one screen, finance can easily audit a study’s running accounts payable and accounts receivable in one viewpoint, and leadership can clearly visualize and track the status of specific studies or their entire portfolio in one place.

SignalPath features precisely the right information across research, finance, and leadership teams.
SignalPath features the right granularity of information across research, finance, and leadership teams.

Key information within a click or two

There is no bigger waste of time than trying to remember where links are located, under which tab, and playing a game of tag to navigate to the right screen. An easy-to-use CTMS like SignalPath should surface all key information within a click or two of the current screen.

In the example below, SignalPath allows a financial analyst to reconcile accounts by navigating from a topline, consolidated view to all the recently entered receivables – in one click. With just another click, they see exactly for which study and participant the receivable came from.

SignalPath’s design allows teams to surface key information in a click or two.

Minimal context shifting

Given the numerous technologies sites use to manage their studies, reviewing clinical trial documents can be painful when reconciling different versions across disparate systems. SignalPath’s intuitively-designed interface helps reduce “context shifting” by acting as a single source of truth where documents and contacts can be shared and easily communicated.

Demonstrated below, SignalPath houses all study documents and contacts and can send files with comments to anybody on the platform. This also ensures data security, so third-party emailing systems do not violate data policies.

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While a CTMS may offer many features that streamline workflows and study operations, it’s not enough to address burnout. To truly ease the work of an overwhelmed research staff, software needs to make the job easier, not harder.

In other words, technology needs to work for people, not the other way around. SignalPath liberates research staff from time spent in frustration over operating and managing the capabilities of their tools, and enables more time caring for patients and conducting research.

Learn more about how SignalPath by Verily can alleviate research team burnout and tech overload here.