Templates, Checklists Surprisingly Powerful Tools in Clinical Research

Christine Senn headshot

Christine Senn, PhD, CCRC, CPI, ACRP-CP, FACRP, Chief Implementation Officer, IACT Health

Templates and checklists might not sound like the most powerful tools in the arsenal of good clinical trial performance, but don’t tell that to Christine Senn, PhD, CCRC, CPI, ACRP-CP, FACRP, CSM, Chief Implementation and Operations Officer for IACT Health.

Harnessed properly, such tools do nothing less than “free you up to do the job you want to do” with patients in clinical trials, Senn says. “They can take away a lot of last-minute stress by letting you focus on what’s important,” she adds.

They’re especially important as today’s workforce experiences high turnover and both newcomers and veterans sometimes lack the kind of rigorous certification in their roles that would ensure smooth operations. “When someone leaves, checklists and templates help you know where someone left off” and what needs to be done to keep the project running without hiccups, she says. They can be particularly valuable when used to corral payment protocols, address informed consent issues, and bolster training, she notes.


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Admitting templates and checklists aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, Senn notes they should be viewed more as guidance about best practices rather than as a granular set of rigid rules. In addition, there’s probably one or more people in your office who enjoy pulling templates and checklists together, she says. Task them with their creation and keep one person responsible for maintaining them, she advises.

Senn will bring these and other ideas to her panel appearance at ACRP’s Southeast Regional Conference in the Research Triangle Park of Durham, N.C., October 3–4.

Another speaker and industry leader, Jennifer Byrne, will discuss the growing importance of so-called “clinical trial navigators,” or clinical trial professionals who also work to advance clinical research as a care option by putting patients at the center of the trial process. A trial navigator is dedicated to ensuring a “continuity of care” for the patient before, during, and after the clinical trial, Byrne says. She’s CEO of Javara Research, based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Byrne is a big believer in clinical research as a care option for a number of reasons, including its potential to “mainstream” clinical trials in the healthcare process and put them more top of mind for physicians and others in a position to recommend them as an option for a patient.

“I hope attendees of the ACRP conference will be able to take a step back and think about new ways they can bring value to patients by the way they collect and share patient health information” always mindful of privacy and other important parameters, Byrne says.

Author: Michael Causey