The importance of testing all aspects and features of a study before Go-Live cannot be over-emphasized. That being said, testing can be a very messy process. If not undertaken with a great deal of planning and documentation, the whole process of testing a study can be rendered not only ineffective but counterproductive. In comes User Acceptance Testing (UAT) to the rescue!
First, you might ask, what is UAT and how is it different from other forms of testing? Think of UAT as a dress rehearsal before a play. The actors all know their lines, the lighting director knows all their queues, and the sets have all been built and tested for safety. But you need to see it all together before you fill the seats with spectators. What if those perfectly built sets don’t line up with the spotlights or what if the bulky costumes get in the way of the actors’ performances? All the parts are there and accounted for, but the picture as a whole has yet to be validated.
The study-build process is similar. After each form has been tested separately, and all of the summaries and reports have been set up to your satisfaction, there is still the issue of unforeseen scenarios. You won’t be able to find or fix all the potential conflicts until you test the entire study as one. Set up a new site, enroll several patients, take each one through the entire screening/dosing/withdrawal/etc., process. Then do it again with another patient and another, until you have ironed out as many eventualities as possible. Even then, there may still be unforeseen problematic scenarios, but the purpose of UAT is to mitigate the number of issues that might come up during the Live study as thoroughly as possible. UAT is also a good way to provide you and your team with a finalized, succinct idea of what, exactly, you are signing off on before your sites begin entering patients. Once you complete your final run-through of the study, you can rest assured that you have done everything you can to make your study run smoothly.
An EDC improves efficiency and reliability while conducting clinical research. Here are some ways it does that:
1. Efficient Communication
The efficiency of communication between team members is what determines the success or failure of a clinical trial. If a team does not have a streamlined process for disseminating information throughout the life of a project that deals with the staggering amount of data typically generated by a drug trial, everything else can fall apart. An Electronic Data Capture (EDC) system provides a platform for making sure information gets to the proper people in a timely manner in a way that paper will never be able to match.
With an EDC, there is a much lower risk of communications being lost or seen by the wrong people. Updates can be shared instantly to ensure that everyone who needs to know will have the pertinent information at their fingertips with no waiting. The only thing you will have to wait for is federal approval (sorry, can’t help you there).
2. Instant Documentation
Every time a user changes a field or makes an entry into the EDC system, the time, date, and user information is captured and recorded instantaneously. Indeed, as soon as a user logs onto the study, the EDC system records how much time they spent on each form even if they simply left their browser open while they played Solitaire in another window (disclaimer: we do not, as yet, have a way to track for you who on your team is playing games and who is actually working).
The EDC system can also record signatures on forms along with accurate date/time stamps. Say an investigator forgot to sign off on a form, and it goes unnoticed until the end of the trial. With paper, the monitor would have to track down who the investigator at that site was and mail them the form to sign. Then the offending investigator would have to mail the signed form back to the Monitor. If the investigator forgot to sign the form initially, who is to say they won’t also forget to send the signed form back? This process is time-consuming and susceptible to errors. With electronic data-capture, signatures are a given and no one has to wait by the mailbox for clerical corrections.
3. Intuitive Summaries
Most clinical trial personnel would agree the most time-consuming aspect of a drug trial is the extrapolation of useful information from the massive amounts of data generated throughout any given study. Where paper fails, an EDC system thrives. The EDC platform is designed specifically to make combing through data as efficient as possible (we won’t go so far as to say it’s enjoyable, but efficient, definitely). An EDC accomplishes this by providing user-friendly summaries directly within the system, which saves time and energy by doing all the work of combing through patient data for you.
Summaries can be set up to meet almost any parameters you can think of, and they can be set up in a matter of seconds. You can compare infinite pieces of data (provided you have infinite pieces of data) to help you come up with the most accurate results possible for your study without wasting man-hours (or woman-hours). Most importantly, EDC summaries can be saved, altered, and shared as fast as thought, so you can keep up with the continuously evolving business of producing safe drugs for people and animals.
4. Real-time monitoring
Monitors can review data entered into an EDC System as soon as the person entering the data hits ‘Save’. There are even features which allow monitors to view data-entry live from a remote location to ensure that patients are kept safe during difficult or potentially dangerous procedures. An EDC system keeps a study moving forward by removing lag-time between clinical observations of patients and safety monitoring of documentation.
5. Error Minimization
The biggest shortcoming with recording data on paper might be the amount of errors that go undetected. When using an EDC system, where every field utilizes automatic constraints and calculations, often in tandem, errors are not only much easier to detect but they are also much easier to prevent.
Constraints can be placed on fields to restrict an impossible value from ever being entered in the first place. If there are unforeseen types of errors that the constraints do not account for, then the monitors can easily attach a query directly onto the field in question. Then the system can be updated to catch any future errors of the same kind. More levels of validation lead to less mistakes.
6. Customizable Forms
Every clinical trial is unique, and, therefore, every clinical trial has unique requirements when it comes to forms and fields. An EDC system, being highly customizable, offers the ability to only show the fields necessary to be filled out for each patient and visit. This saves time for the investigators when recording their observations. They do not need to waste time filling out an entire stock form as they would on paper.
Forms in an EDC system can be set up so that the next field or form becomes visible or remains suppressed depending on the answer to a previous field or form. In this way, the system guides the data entry personnel through the appropriate process and prevents a lot of headaches. Plus, not having papers means no paperwork!
Prelude Dynamics is thrilled to be returning as the premiere EDC exhibitor at this year’s 2019 Annual Society of Quality Assurance Conference in Atlanta. We are excited to exhibit and engage with SQA members on the increasing demands of electronic data capture in conducting human and animal clinical trials.
Make sure to drop by our booth #’s: 319 & 320 on 4/30-5/01, Tuesday through Wednesday, to get a first-hand sneak-peek of our most exciting software upgrade yet, VISION 10.0™! We will have Prelude members on-hand to give demos and answer any questions you may have.
We are also pleased to announce three of our executive members, Dr. Alicia Browner, Ph.D. (CTO); Richard Tieken (President); and Dr. Karina Loyo, Ph.D. (Director of Clinical Research Services), will be featured on panels and roundtable discussions over the course of the conference.
They will be speaking on the following topics:
- Audit Trails: “Over the River and Through the Woods: Following the Audit Trail” with Alicia Browner
- EDC Challenges and Opportunities: “Challenges and Opportunities Using Electronic Data Capture Systems in Animal Health Studies” with Richard Tieken
- Best Practices to Build a Study: “The Secrets of a Good Study Build: What You Wish You Knew” roundtable discussion with Karina Loyo
- IT Compliance: 90-minute Session “Open Microphone with CVIC” with Richard Tieken
[Note: Make sure to check the SQA program schedule for their exact speaking sessions and times]
As the only attending EDC provider at SQA, we are honored to be given the opportunity to contribute to meaningful conversations on compliance and data quality as more clinical trials are integrating with EDC platforms. So, make sure to visit us at our booth, or attend one of our speaking sessions during the conference and see the #1 EDC platform for human and animal health in action!
We hope to see you in Atlanta!!