EDGE & the CPMS project by Dave Osler

Dave Osler.JPG

It was the 9th October 2015 when an email landed in my inbox inviting me to an initial teleconference with the NIHR Coordinating Centre. It was to discuss a proposed integration between EDGE and CPMS. My usual positive attitude kicked in and I thought ‘Hmmmm, that’ll be a nice project for a year or so, how complicated could it be’. Underestimation is a dangerous thing however, which I have learnt many times, usually when starting DIY projects in my house and telling my wife things like ‘the shower will be fixed in an hour or so’, only for it to still be in pieces on the floor a few days later. So as you can imagine, both to my surprise, and not to my surprise at the same time, 3 and a half years later this interface project is still in progress.

In my rather varied career history, I used to run critical incidents in the Kent Police Control Room, such as firearms incidents and large scale public order events which were constantly evolving and each had many moving parts to take into account. I’m therefore used to pressure and stress, aware of the need to dynamically risk assess the situation constantly, keep in mind the bigger picture whilst also trying to complete the task in hand. This has perhaps stood me in good stead for this integration project.

Despite this being the most complicated project that I have ever worked on, I believe it has actually delivered benefits beyond its original design. It has brought our team, the Clinical Research Networks and the Coordinating Centre around the table on an almost weekly basis, in turning building a very close working relationship with everyone involved and developing a much deeper understanding around how we each function. Although we haven’t been able to engage with every Trust in the integration work, we have always involved as many as possible in the conversations to ensure that everyone has a voice in the changes being made.

As Newton said, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and this cannot be denied. The concentration of our workforce on delivering the CPMS integration has meant that other aspects of our teams work has had to play second fiddle, often meaning that engagement through platforms like ideascale has reduced, or the ability for our team to set up user groups around areas of special interest.

So on a positive note, we are currently in the throes of recruitment, meaning that soon we will be able to re-continue all of the engagement work that enables us to work alongside you all in understanding your business, your processes, your problems and your aspirations in order to deliver the best solutions possible in EDGE.

Blog post written by Dave Osler
Head of EDGE Knowledge, CIRU
University of Southampton

CONNECTED EDGE Conference 2019

EDGE team

Firstly, I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who attended our 2019 conference CONNECTED, which allowed the EDGE community to learn, share, network and to more importantly get connected. There was a real buzz and great atmosphere across the 2 days. It was nice to see people from all over the UK, Canada, Belgium and New Zealand all in the same place, building relationships and connecting through the use of the EDGE system.

The event this year was again hosted by BBC Medical Correspondent Fergus Walsh, who was very popular with our audience, making them laugh as well as not being afraid to ask some challenging questions to our speakers. We had some brilliant keynote speakers with experience ranging from clinical to business intelligence to sponsorship. Clare Meachin, Associate Director of Nursing, NIHR CRN CC and Deputy Chief Operating Officer from CRN South London really stood out to me. She was a confident speaker who reminded our audience why data is so important to research and to the patient with her talk titled “Close to the EDGE- why does all this matter to the patient?”

Throughout both afternoons we hosted a number of breakout and workshop sessions to cover all aspects of EDGE. These were ran by EDGE experts amongst the community as well as by some of our EDGE Knowledge team. There were topics to suit every research job role whether you worked within a support department such as pharmacy or radiology, clinical nursing team or R&D department.

In keeping with the CONNECTED theme we tried out some new aspects to the conference this year. We added a QR code to each delegate badge so that connecting would be easier. Following a quick download of an app and a scan of a code you would be able to save details of someone you spoke to instantly to your phone. We also colour coded each delegate badge to help identify other members of the EDGE community working in a similar job role. These colours were then used in the ‘Get Connected’ zone, a designated space for connecting after lunchtime.  

The networking dinner took place on the first night, where not only did delegates receive some delicious food but they also took part in our traditional EDGE quiz, followed by a special awards ceremony which showcased some of the fantastic work that certain individuals and organisations have been doing with EDGE. We then had some music from a band called the Altitudes to finish off what was a great evening.

Overall, it was a successful conference and we are all very happy with how it went. We are looking forward to planning next year’s event so keep a look out for the 2020 news! Oh, and one last thing. For those of you who spoke and received an EDGEY, please look after with care! 

Blog post written by Beth Caruana
Marketing & Communications Knowledge Specialist, CIRU
University of Southampton

Exploration of EDGE Functionality


Our use of technology and the role it plays in our lives is increasing, both in and out of the workplace, with it even reaching levels of addiction in some instances, case in point where the World Health Organisations now includes a classification of ‘Gaming Disorder’ in their new International Classification of Disease (ICD-11). 

This raises an important question about how effectively we use technology and how that technology benefits us in return, especially within the workplace where most often the technology is provided to us, rather than being chosen by us. The Health Secretary Matt Hancock is a big advocate of digital technology and has already expressed a strong desire to unlock its full potential in the NHS, after describing it as the “worlds most frustrating place to work for its IT” at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester. 

Here in the Clinical Informatics Research Unit, our Knowledge Officers spend a lot of time working with hospitals and research organisations to ensure that the systems they use provide them with maximum benefit, helping them to understand the full range of functions available. This includes how they can utilize it in different ways in order to streamline processes and improve operational efficiencies, or in layman’s terms just making it more useful and helpful. 

Every organization uses the system differently, and subsequently every organisation will experience different benefits. This is not to say that the system is different between organisations, it is after all the same system, instead it is down to the heterogeneity of each organisation, notably which other systems are already being used, and how, in this case, EDGE has been implemented. 

Part of what we do as a team, and as a community is to share best practice and we see this in so many different areas, most recently with primary care and pharmacy groups being created, and this cooperative working is not limited to the NHS. Colleagues using EDGE from Canada are just as willing to share their work and are just as receptive to the innovations from the UK because, lets face it, we are all trying to provide the best environment and best infrastructure to provide opportunities for patients to take part in research. 

Something that I have noticed on my travels is that there are sometimes functions in EDGE that people didn’t realise were there, or maybe didn’t see how they could really benefit them. This is where I intend to offer out some advice on different aspects of how the system can be used over the next few months, to ensure that people can make the most of the system and ultimately to make sure that the technology is effective, is benefiting peoples work and ultimately reduces the view that the NHS, or other healthcare providers are ‘frustrating places to work for its IT’. 

In this first instalment, I bring some work from Gaurika Kapoor, Operations Manager at Alder Hey Clinical Research Facility, in which she has created an Entity on EDGE for the purposes of collecting data for their NIHR CRF Annual Reports. This is going to be used to standardise their approach to capturing the information and providing a central place for reporting. 

This has now been published into the Global Library, for all EDGE Admins to download if they so wish and can be found on EDGE by going to LIBRARY > ENTITIES > ADD GLOBAL ENTITY > click ‘CRF’. 

Once you click on it a copy will be downloaded into your library, allowing you to add, edit or delete sections in order to use it for your own data collection requirements. *And just to clarify, changing your version of it will not affect anyone else’s copy. 

There are many other Entities available in this library which have been shared by organisations who believe they would be useful to others, so go and check it out and see if anything you like. On a side note, over time this library has become quite busy, so I will add a ‘to do’ to my list and see if we can clean this up a bit. 

Thanks for reading and keep watching out for the next series, where I will go into more depth around other functions that you could use in EDGE.

Blog post written by Dave Osler,
Head of EDGE Knowledge, CIRU
University of Southampton

Looking for inspiration for your next Power BI Report?

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft has a growing community of users all across the globe. There are accomplished users within the community that are enthusiastic to show off the data analysis and report designs that they have created. Some of these reports are held in the Data Stories Gallery on Microsoft’s website, found here.

Within this Data Stories Gallery, you will find all sorts of different reports based on topics as far reaching as the North Korean missile capability to cheerier subjects such as the World Cup. Whilst the topic areas might not be strictly Clinical Research or even Healthcare, the reports demonstrate the wide array of methods of visualising data that are available to users.

If you wanted to take a look at how the reports are set up e.g. what visualisations are actually used, which fields go where, or what formatting has been used, you will find quite often that the author of the report has shared the Power BI file (.pbix file) in the description. You are able to download this file and open it in your Power BI Desktop application.

If any of these Power BI reports inspire you and you would like to share what you have created with the growing community of EDGE users using Power BI, please send an email to me at: p.oxford@soton.ac.uk.  We would love to supply the pedestal for talented users to demonstrate their skills and ultimately if the report is useful for you, there is a very good chance it will be useful for others in the EDGE community!

Blog post written by Pat Oxford,
Data Analyst & Knowledge Support, CIRU
University of Southampton

Utilising EDGE to Record, Monitor and Report on Studies Supported through the NIHR CRN West Midlands Early Contact Service


Data has never enthralled me but I understand the importance of capturing and recording accurate data in a timely manner to create a clear picture of how a service is performing and to install the confidence to then disseminate report findings to a wide audience. Plus my line manager is a data enthusiast so data accuracy is of paramount importance to ensure meaningful analysis and this is regularly communicated to the team.

My role is to manage the Early Contact service for the Clinical Research Network West Midlands. The Early Contact service supports Chief Investigators and their research team as early as the research idea stage and up until study set-up at key stages across the research delivery pathway. The team is made up of 12 Early Contact Leads who each have a caseload of up to 30 clinical trials that they are providing support for at any one time. Therefore, it is important to be able to maintain a record of each study, monitor progress at key stages, and provide accurate reporting on the service.

Prior to the use of EDGE, the CRN West Midlands Early Contact team were using an ever growing Excel spreadsheet to record all studies supported through the Early Contact service. This was becoming cumbersome with multi-user editing, data errors and speed issues to name a few of the challenges that made it difficult as a manager to maintain oversight of the service and have confidence in the accuracy of data. Not being a fan of spreadsheets or a data driven enthusiast, data management was becoming a dull routine that I was keen to change!

Once EDGE was introduced to the Network, it seemed the perfect solution to adopt and the Early Contact team have used the functionality of EDGE to make it specific to the team’s requirements for recording, monitoring and reporting on all Early Contact studies. As a team we were glad to see the back of the monster spreadsheet and embrace a new concept more suitable to our needs.

The use of EDGE has been a learning curve as it was new to the team initially and therefore quite challenging to learn how to use a new system as well as ensure the functionality had been explored and utilised to our advantage. A five step approach was adopted for rolling out the use of EDGE in the Early Contact service:

  1. Identify EDGE attributes specific to the  requirements of the Early Contact service

  2. Develop an EDGE Early Contact User Guide (and adapt with every changing requirement!)

  3. Train Early Contact Leads in use of EDGE

  4. Update EDGE attributes and Guide as necessary and communicate changes

  5. Monitor success of use of EDGE for Early Contact service (this was an easy one!)

As a result of utilising EDGE for the Early Contact service (compared to the previous clunky spreadsheet system), more accurate data has been achieved more easily and a considerable amount of time has been saved too (always a bonus!). The Early Contact team have also experienced the following benefits:

  • Production of more accurate and timely reporting (2 hours time saved in producing a monthly report)

  • Easier identification of capacity for Early Contact Leads to support more studies (over 2 hours time saved in producing workload reports)

  • Assurance that more accurate study records are produced and maintained due to mandatory attributes being set up specifically for the Early Contact service

  • Ability to add attributes to address changing requirements and reporting needs

  • Additional functionality of workflows to monitor progress of studies across the research delivery pathway

  • A more satisfied line manager (our data enthusiast) at these results!

In summary, EDGE has given the CRN West Midlands Early Contact team the ability to streamline current processes, ensure more accurate study records are maintained, and instill confidence in the data produced. As a team we are still chased for any data gaps and you can almost hear the groan in the office as the monthly data gaps email gets circulated! However, we have processes in place to rectify missing data to ensure the complete picture is captured.

It is inevitable that there will be changing requirements and reporting needs but EDGE currently gives us the ability to capture the data needs and stay agile to support future change.

Blog by Dr. Kirsty Hunter
Research Support Manager
CRN West Midlands

Update from Dave Osler

Dave Osler.jpg

Well it is safe to say that the last few months have been somewhat eventful to say the least. The GDPR D-day has been and gone along with so much work happening across the NHS and academia to prepare for. It certainly feels like everyone has a better understanding of their data now and are more conscious about how it’s justified, where it’s stored, how long for, who the data controller is, alongside all the other stipulations and requirements of the regulations.

Clinical research data capture has for a long time been highly regulated and controlled due to the many other directives and frameworks under which we operate meaning that we should all have been in a fairly strong position to steer ourselves to GDPR compliance. As one University said to me ‘it’s not clinical research we are worried about so much, it’s research across other faculties’. This is where we come to realise that outside the sphere of clinical research, not all protocols include the basics such as a data management plan.

In line with our dedication to high quality research management, every member of the EDGE team from developers to account managers, Head of Operations to our directors PA have completed their GCP training alongside mandatory GDPR training.

We are starting to develop the next stage of the EDGE – CPMS interface called ‘SetStudySites’. This will transfer project sites from EDGE in order to create those site records on CPMS, therefore reducing the need to enter the same site data on 2 separate systems. This will lead us gradually towards our shared vision of a truly integrated research system.

Blog post written by Dave Osler
Head of EDGE Knowledge, CIRU

University of Southampton