research

My experience before joining CIRU

 
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My experience within research has been relatively short but a varied one up to this point. I have gained unique experiences and have learnt much about research over the last 4 years. Not only is research an extremely rewarding practice to be a part of but our governments drive for the UK to lead in research for patient care and economic growth also makes for a gratified career prospect.

I first got into research after working for 9 years within many different Pharmacy departments at Southampton General Hospital. Being well aware the step up to a Pharmacy technician wasn’t for me, I knew it was time to take another route. At that time I took an opportunity within the Clinical Trials Pharmacy department as a Senior Clinical Trials Assistant. Dispensing trial drugs and accountability were key aspects of my day to day duties within that role as well as ensuring nurses received their prescription drugs on time for their patient’s appointments. Due to the importance of time windows within most CTIMP protocols, each dispensing item had a time limit from receiving the script to a final technician check. This could be very stressful at times when the pharmacy was extremely busy and as most prescriptions were not presented in advance this could not be predicted. Other essential tasks involved recouping costings from commercial studies by collating finance figures from site file accountability logs. This was very important as our department mostly relied on funding coming in from commercial trials.

After 6 months I was employed as a ‘Pharmacy Clinical Trials Co-ordinator’, an extremely rewarding role where I was solely responsible for over a million pounds worth of trial medication. Good relations and communication with PI’s, Co-Investigators and Nurses were pivotal for preparing CTIMP deliveries and prescriptions, enabling chemotherapy and other trial IVs to be made in the aseptic’s in time for patient’s appointments. As IVs all have various expiries (once made) it’s imperative my organisation skills were on point. Some medication can quickly expire, wasting thousands of pounds of stock while also holding up a treatment chair in a busy cancer clinic, in turn wasting pharmacy and research teams’ valuable time.

With a taste of research I felt it was the right time to move away from Pharmacy after 10 years and I joined the Lung Research team within the same hospital. A small team of 5 (Including myself), consisting of 2 senior nurses and 3 research assistants.

My time was split supporting senior nurses with administration duties such as updating trial site files and inputting data into ECRFs after patient visits, while the other half was assisting in coordinating 100,000 genomes project implementation into the trust. Along with this I also gained consent from patients for the TargetLung study. This would entail following patients through their standard of care journey, taking their bloods and processing bodily fluids in a lab for scientists to process. I would also collect tumour tissues from many different procedures in order to help researchers try and improve their knowledge of how the immune system works with lung diseases. As you can imagine this was an extremely insightful way of learning how laboratories, theatres and various departments work together in research.

With the above hands on experience of clinical trials on my side, it has assisted me a great deal as a Knowledge Officer at the Clinical Informatics Research Unit, in understanding what clinical research teams need to carry out their occupations effectively. The CIRU team has a great diversity of experience from all aspects of research departments which helps us solve problems and brainstorm issues efficiently with good understanding of our users. Naturally there are times when issues arise where we are not familiar, but good relationships with CRNs and the Trusts keeps the CIRU team up to date with current affairs which is helpful for running the EDGE programme.

Blog post written by Lee Pearce,
EDGE Knowledge Officer, CIRU
University of Southampton

Clinical Informatics Research Unit Update

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We would like to take this opportunity to give you all an update on what is happening here at the Clinical Informatics Research Unit (CIRU). 

We would like to warmly welcome Dr Mike Head and Dr Rebecca Brown into the department. They are both Research Fellows at the University of Southampton and are currently running the ResIn study.

The Research Investments in Global Health study (ResIn) is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project previously focused on the UK research landscape and published widely on the strengths and gaps in the UK research portfolio for both infectious diseases and oncology. Levels of investment have been compared to global and national burdens of disease to gain an insight into relative levels of spend and inform priority-setting initiatives. Now, ResIn is building a global dataset and analysing funding trends and disease burdens for infectious disease research across the G20 nations and will report findings in 2018. The study, and results to date, have been presented multiple times to many high-level global health stakeholders including the World Health Organisation, European Commission and the Wellcome Trust. Findings have also been cited by others in numerous documents including journal publications and government reports.

See http://researchinvestments.org/ for more about the project.

Written by Dave Osler, Head of Knowledge, CIRU

A blog post from an EDGE user- Using EDGE to manage a complex primary care study

My name is Randeep Basra and I am a Clinical Studies Officer for the Clinical Research Network in North West London. I am part of the delivery team that helps with the setup and support at primary care sites and recruitment of participants for research projects that I am assigned to work on.

One of the projects currently in progress is iHealth-T2D, a multicentre, cluster randomised clinic trial on type 2 diabetes in the South Asian population. The study looks to provide evidence that the implementation of lifestyle modifications and health promotion is clinically effective in reducing the onset of type 2 diabetes in South Asians with central obesity or pre-diabetes compared to usual care. Managing the study has brought on some complex and challenging situations in terms of project management, where communication, organisation and team work has been key to the success we have experienced so far.

This has been helped significantly by the use of EDGE. In the early stages, large amounts of information about the study was kept in a number of places that were not so easy to access and were becoming difficult to manage by the team as a whole. An example of such information was the staff involved and their contact details, information about clinics being run at GP practices and patients recruited, just to name a few. When hearing about EDGE, we felt it could work to solve these issues.

Since then, we haven’t looked back. Once the process of uploading all the information to EDGE had taken place, we found it straightforward to access and the layout easy to navigate. We are able to effortlessly store different pieces of information about the project or primary care sites in one place that everyone can see. For example, I can find a particular recruiting site in a couple of clicks and can access information on how many patients were contacted from a particular site and on what date, when screening clinics are running and how many participants have been recruited so far. The outcome is that everyone is able to look at and maintain up-to-date information about the study from a single place from almost any location at any time.

Knowing that I can add users and have the contact details of any member of staff from any of the 50+ GP practices taking part is reassuring and allows a smooth stream of communication with everyone involved. Personally, the “notes” section is a highlight for me, as being able to communicate updates about an individual site for everyone to see in a free-text box saves time on administration and permits flexibility depending on what information can be stored here. Although it is not necessary to upload patient information to EDGE for our team, I have found using anonymous codes for each patient recruited at GP practices has been a safe and fool-proof way for me to keep an accurate record of how many participants are engaged with the study. Last, but certainly not least, the “project attribute reports” have been wonderful when requiring a snapshot of the study for team meetings and to assess data quality.

This hasn’t just been useful for me the delivery team – other staff who support the delivery team have found it a great way to pull off information from the system when it comes to arranging financial payments or tracking recruitment. In fact, this study was the first we have tried to store financial information on and while this is work in progress, it has been very useful so far. In this way, the whole team can be singing from the same hymn sheet without the need for endless spreadsheets and hard-to-follow email trails.

We would like to give a special thanks to Kaatje and Sean for all the support we have had in making this system work well for the project. We feel the adaptability and brains of the system, as well as the people behind it, are what make it work for us.

Here is a shot of the team who have all been involved in delivering the study.

Here is a shot of the team who have all been involved in delivering the study.

Post by Randeep Basra, Clinical Studies Officer
CRN North West London
randeep.basra@nihr.ac.uk

Global Cyber Attack- advice for our users

As you may all be aware, there was a global cyber attack on Friday causing problems across the NHS.

EDGE is hosted at a secure Tier 4 centre at Carelink, one of the highest level of secure centres available. The EDGE service was not impacted by the attack however, as a precaution we decided to temporarily stop access to the EDGE service on Friday evening to allow time for the threat to be better understood and reduce the risk of any impact to the EDGE service. On Saturday morning after further assurances, access to EDGE was resumed.

This was done purely as a precautionary measure.

We would advise that all NHS staff follow the guidance given by their organisation regarding security patches, run windows updates on all machines and continue to keep all computer systems up to date with anti-virus software releases. Further to this we recommend for those trusts who are running Windows XP to contact their IT department to update to Windows 10 as an extra safety precaution.

In general please can all users be extra vigilant when opening emails and do not open any attachments or click on any links if you are not expecting communication from the sender. Malicious emails may appear to come from other NHS employees, so even if you recognise the sender please do not assume that the contents are safe. If you think your computer has been infected by a virus we advise that you immediately disconnect it from the network or shut it down and contact your IT department.

This is also good advice for your personal computers to limit the impact of these cyber attacks.

We will continue to monitor the situation and react appropriately to continue to provide a safe and reliable service.

 

 

EDGE at the R&D Forum

EDGE at the R&D forum 2016

We took a shining role as Premier Sponsor at this year’s R&D Forum with our brand appearing in the delegate guides, onscreen adverts and at the front of the conference room throughout the 2 day event. If that wasn’t enough we also had a giant inflatable Luna pod used as our exhibition structure, which definitely caught the eye of every conference attendee. It was safe to say EDGE was everywhere, and what a success it was!

The event took place at the Holiday Inn, Stradford-upon-Avon (23rd-24th May) and was for those involved in leading, supporting, managing and delivering research. With over 500 people attending each year we were very excited to be part of such a big National event. On registration to the forum each attendee received an EDGE notebook and stylus pen ready for the day. With our stand in prime position inside the main conference room it meant we could not be missed (especially with our gleaming pod!) The Luna pod not only worked as a great attraction but allowed us to house two computer screens with tables and chairs. This worked fantastically when showing visitors demos of the EDGE system.

Each person who came to our stand was keen to take some of our fabulous freebies which included EDGE branded pens, mints, mugs and of course the EDGE branded bag (also known as the #swagbag on Twitter!) For the majority of the two days all five members of the EDGE Knowledge team were completely run off their feet with demoing, taking photos, videoing, answering EDGE related questions and handing out our merchandise.

The networking continued at the Gala dinner which we were also the sponsors of. You could find our EDGE logo presented on the dinner tickets as well as on the food menus which was another great promotional aspect for us. As sponsor we provided each table with some EDGE branded mint chocolates which came out with the tea and coffee (always a good way to finish any dinner!)

At the end of day two the team came away feeling positive and had each enjoyed their time at the forum. There were fantastic comments said about EDGE and the feedback received over the two days was discussed on return to the office. Overall, it was a real success and we look forward to next year!