The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a centre of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) provides real-world data research services, supporting public health and clinical studies.
Until recently, CPRD’s process for paying investigators for their role in recruiting candidates to studies had been done manually. The process, which could take up two hours each week of a busy study managers’ time, involved collation of historic information, coordination of multiple spreadsheets and transcription of information into the organisation’s customer relationship management (CRM) system. Once compiled, this information needed to be provided to the finance team. There was no direct integration between the respective IT systems and a fair degree of duplication of effort and a risk of potential errors.
“Users had to pass information around to each other. The whole process needed updating,” explained CPRD’s Applications Delivery Manager, “We knew a more integrated and intuitive approach could automate at least 90 per cent of this work.”
After a process of requirements discovery, the work went through a formal tender with a clear set of criteria. As well as the right technical capabilities, CPRD was looking for a software partner with proven experience of government/healthcare-related development work, and familiarity with Government Digital Services (GDS) guidelines. These covered the look and feel and user-friendliness of the resulting system, and the approach to software development itself.
We were impressed – they were professional, competent, flexible in nature and worked in an agile manner, and were familiar with GDS guidelines
DCSL Software were selected in the interview process as being well qualified and having relevant experience. As well as meeting CPRD’s technical specifications, they quickly developed a good working relationship and a shared understanding of what needed to be done. “We were impressed – they were professional, competent, flexible in nature and worked in an agile manner, and were familiar with GDS guidelines” said the Applications Delivery Manager.
DCSL’s brief was to address several specific requirements. The first was to provide integration between the CPRD’s Interventional Research Services platform and the CRM system to consolidate and link practice and staff information, and exchange payment information. This would reduce duplication and manual process steps – making the CRM system the single, definitive point of truth.
A further requirement was to create intuitive graphical dashboards, to display at-a-glance snapshots of key status information and insights about studies, tailored to the interests of different stakeholders (including participating patients) – with the ability to drill down into more detail, as needed. Finally, a payments module would make it easy to automatically generate cost information based on study activity and update the CRM system so that it could easily generate payment reports for the finance team.
DCSL Software created an API ‘bridge’ between the different applications, to allow automated data exchange – wherever possible re-using the technology CPRD had already invested in but making everything work more cohesively and efficiently.
CPRD were impressed with DCSL’s work which surpassed expectations. “We liked their way of working, their agile approach, and their openness to feedback.”
The dashboard development work has been well received. It represents a significant enhancement which will help study managers, investigators and even patients. “The dashboard changes look really great and we are excited about rolling them out in our next studies,” said a CPRD study manager.
Using recommended GDS design presents a consistent look and feel to the CPRD platform. “This will help users make the most of the platform” notes the Applications Delivery Manager. “DCSL have been very professional,” she concludes. “This project involved DCSL working with a second supplier which presented challenges, but they adapted easily to the collaboration, determined to make this a success.”
DCSL have been very professional. This project involved DCSL working with a second supplier which presented challenges, but they adapted easily to the collaboration, determined to make this a success.