Thoughts from the DIA EU Electronic Document Management Conference

[Also posted on LinkedIn Pulse]
I have just attended the 15th Drug Information Association (DIA) European Electronic Document Management conference in Berlin. Here are a few thoughts and observations that came to mind as I sat through some of the presentations:

Many speakers described issues relating to the conference theme of standardisation and how we could potentially improve interoperability and increase efficiency through use of technology. But it was refreshing to hear Russell Joyce (Heath Barrowcliff Consulting) talk about the importance of information governance…. a topic that is sadly missing from many people’s agendas.

We heard about functionality needed for regulatory submissions management but I really have to question the need for “archive and find” functionality for submissions. In general, submissions are a snapshot of source records…. the source should be stored and managed in their respective “system of truth”. Yes, we need to identify what goes into each submission and may have a need to go back and run queries several years after the event. But submissions are a published COPY of original records. So, ‘archive and find’ functionality is needed in the “systems of truth” i.e. for the source content. This is the content that needs archiving in compliance with relevant regulations….. the submissions can be destroyed as soon as there is no longer a business need for them (usually a relatively short period).

System implementation projects often take several years within our industry and so it was interesting to hear about a project that was delivered in just over 2 months. Impressive? Yes, but I just couldn’t help wondering the extent to which success was heavily dependent upon a team of external consultants (e.g. to rewrite applicable SOPs) and the fact that the system was implemented with “out of the box” functionality. It is not often projects are this straight-forward. Having said that, perhaps a prompt for us to think hard why our IT projects have to take quite so long? If we had to deliver in 3, 4 or 5 months, could we? I reckon we probably could!

Another presentation concerned a process harmonisation effort as part of an IT implementation project. It was interesting to see that a specific objective of the project was identification of activities that could be carried out externally by a vendor i.e. an assessment of core competencies to be retained in-house. Perhaps we need to be more open to out-sourcing activities that we “hold dear”?

Great presentation on digital preservation. Much more than electronic archiving. Every organisation needs a digital preservation plan….. not just a retention schedule that says we’ll archive the content electronically for 25 years.

It was interesting to hear that one of the over-riding principles when the Reference Models were initially established was that content taxonomy was not considered to provide any competitive advantage and hence, we could all share openly our practices and learn from each other. It got me thinking that perhaps recent GCP inspection experience suggests that NOT adopting a reference model increases the risk of inspection findings. On this basis, is content taxonomy now actually providing competitive advantage to those that adopt the reference models?

My final observation concerned some comments from one of the regulatory agencies who pointed out that our design and implementation of eTMF solutions should be based on our business needs and should facilitate trial conduct and management, rather than to please a GCP inspector….. a statement that I heartily agree with. It was therefore a little disconcerting to subsequently hear the same individual comment that our use of perhaps five distributed and varied IT solutions might result in an inability of the inspector to perform an inspection within the required timeframe and should therefore be avoided. I think there’s a disconnect here! If use of 5 disparate systems is chosen by the sponsor for sound business and quality reasons, the agencies need to adapt their inspection regime to accommodate this type of technology e.g. by use of remote inspection, rather than suggesting we choose an IT infrastructure that is more aligned with their inspection practices.

So, here’s to the 16th DIA EU EDM conference!

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How to Implement a Successful eTMF Project

If you are considering implementing an eTMF or perhaps you are already in the middle of such a project, there is still time to register on our 1-day eTMF workshop being held on Monday 1st December in Berlin, Germany. Technology solutions for managing electronic Trial Master File (eTMF) documents are now established in many sponsors and contract research organisations. However, companies often experience challenges as they begin to implement solutions, sometimes several years later! This workshop will provide attendees with an opportunity to discuss some of the more challenging aspects of eTMF implementation. Through instructor-facilitated discussions, guidance will be provided in a wide range of relevant topics, including:

  • Change management
  • Operating with multiple eTMF solutions e.g. sponsor/CRO
  • Managing correspondence and email
  • Evaluating the “health” of your TMF

This workshop, being run by the DIA with Karen Roy (Phlexglobal), is held on the day preceding the EU Electronic Document Management conference and can be booked on the DIA website. Registration for the full-day workshop is just €550. With great transport links from across Europe, a great price, and a great agenda, this is an opportunity not to be missed!!! Make sure you get your booking submitted soon.

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TMF Benchmarking

A quick blog post today! Have you completed our TMF Benchmarking Survey?

We are running a very brief online survey to identify any trends in terms of how companies are defining their TMF and how they interact with CROs with regards to TMF technology. The survey just has SIX simple questions and takes no more than 2-3 minutes to complete. As an incentive for companies to provide their information, every participant will receive a report containing anonymized output. This should be a useful tool for you to see how your company is positioned in relation to others. We’re not asking for information that is company confidential. The survey will shortly close so don’t delay…. complete the survey HERE.

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The World Slowly Wakes to the Reality of TMF Requirements

Perhaps my title is somewhat harsh but I perceive more than a little frustration in the announcement today from the MHRA that they are revising their definition of critical inspection findings to include cases “where provision of the Trial Master File (TMF) does not comply with Regulation 31A 1-3, as the TMF is not readily available or accessible, or the TMF is incomplete to such an extent that it cannot form the basis of inspection and therefore impedes or obstructs inspectors carrying out their duties in verifying compliance with the regulations“.

It seems like an age that consultants like myself and other experts have been telling industry that once a clinical trial is closed-out, no matter how wonderfully the trial was completed the only artifact that is left are the trial records….. the trial master file. This forms the basis for GCP inspections i.e. to demonstrate that all applicable regulations were complied with and that the data generated during the study can be trusted as being accurate and complete. So, maintenance of a trial master file is not just a case of filing away a set of documents and ticking them off some sort of inventory list. The trial master file must “tell the story” of the clinical trial….. how the trial was conducted and how decisions were made, for example. And when it comes to the time for an inspection, the TMF must be a complete and accurate record of the facts.

In amending the definition of criticial findings to include the unavailability or incompleteness of the TMF, the MHRA are raising the stakes. TMF management is not a process that should be considered a low priority administrative task but a criticial activity that is central to GCP compliance. And increasingly, TMF vendors are coming to realise that an eTMF is more than just a repository for PDF files; it is a critical tool to assist in trial conduct and trial management. I don’t think it will be too long before other regulatory agencies follow the MHRA’s lead on this.

About Rammell Consulting: We are a specialist records management consulting company, providing a range of consultancy, training and education services to the life sciences/healthcare sector. Topics that we advise on include the trial master file, electronic archiving and digital preservation. Please refer to our website for further information. Our Introduction to Records Management training module takes place on Thursday June 12th in the UK (last few places remaining).

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Training for Records Managers & Archivists

It is not often that I use my blog to promote meetings, conferences etc but I’m going to make an exception today! For those records management professionals working in the life sciences, there are few events that provide training specific to our sector. We can pick up general principles from organisations such as ARMA, AIIM and IRMS but where do we go for training that is specific to the issues we face in our work on a day-to-day basis?

Well, if you have not attended one of the Scientific Archivists Group conferences before, I recommend you take a look. Although the name of the association includes “archivist” it is actually much broader than that, meeting the needs of all records management professionals working in the life sciences, particularly focussing on those operating under GLP, GCP, GMP, etc. The finishes touches are just being made to the agenda of their next conference and bookings are now being taken.

The preliminary agenda can be viewed online – where bookings are taken also – and it includes:

  • electronic archiving solutions
  • archiving electronic mail
  • issues for the archivist when an R&D site closes
  • a non-commercial viewpoint of clinical archiving
  • quality and compliance issues for document digitisation (scanning)
  • cloud computing (case study)
  • health and safety
  • electronic signatures
  • document scanning (case study)

What a varied programme! And for £500 (12% reduction for SAG members) you get:

  • 2-day conference programme including all refreshments
  • 2-nights bed & breakfast accommodation in Nice, France
  • complimentary drinks reception
  • conference gala dinner
  • networking opportunities

Personally,  I think this is great value for money and would highly recommend attendance.

For staff who are fairly new to the industry and to records management, you may awant to consider our new 3-day training programme too which covers the full spectrum of records management principles, going back to basics.

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Fire Destroys Argentine Banking System Archives, Killing 9

rammellel:

Another Iron Mountain Incident

Originally posted on mediachecker:

February 6, 2014

While we are sure it is a very sad coincidence, on the day when Argentina decrees limits on the FX positions banks can hold and the Argentine Central Bank’s reserves accounting is questioned publically, a massive fire – killing 9 people – has destroyed a warehouse archiving banking system documents. As The Washington Post reports, the fire at the Iron Mountain warehouse (which purportedly had multiple protections against fire, including advanced systems that can detect and quench flames without damaging important documents) took hours to control and the sprawling building appeared to be ruined.

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately clear – though we suggest smelling [Christine] Fernandez’ hands…

We noted yesterday that there are major questions over Argentina’s reserve honesty

While first print is preliminary and subject to revision, the size of recent discrepancies have no precedent. This suggests that the government may…

View original 786 more words

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New Records Management Training Programme Launched

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new introductory training programme for records management and archiving staff, in conjunction with Heath Barrowcliff Consulting Ltd. This is comprised of three 1-day modules spread across a year. At only £250 (plus VAT) per day, this represents excellent value for money. We also provide a £50 discount for delegates attending the whole 3-day programme, making completion of the programme only £700 (plus VAT). The curriculum across the 3 modules covers all of the fundamental principles that a records management or archive professional needs to have knowledge of, at an introductory level. Our focus is on colleagues working in life sciences regulated environments (e.g. GLP, GCP, GMP), though a significant proportion of the content would be equally applicable in other sectors too. So, if you are a new archive assistant, archivist, document administrator, records manager or in another similar role and are looking for a training programme that covers the full scope of records management activities, this is the programme for you! Or perhaps you have a new member of staff in your organisation that could benefit from such a programme, please get in touch.

Our course venue is located adjacent to London’s Heathrow Airport so is great for transport links either within the UK or for delegates flying in from outside the UK. Our venue also provides overnight accommodation (booked separately by delegates) if needed, with prices from just £65/night. Our start time of 09:30am allows for delegates travelling to the venue on the morning of the course.

Full details of our training programme can be found at http://rmtrain.eventhq.co.uk/ and are also summarised below:

Module 1 – Introduction to Records Management and Archiving (1-day) This module will provide an overview of the fundamental principles of records management and archiving, including framing the subject in the context of the life sciences regulatory GxP environment. The content of this module will include:

  • What do we mean by ‘records management’?
  • Why is it important to manage records?
  • The legal and regulatory framework for archiving
  • Responsibility for records management and archiving
  • The records management lifecycle/continuum
  • The challenges to good practice
  • Benefits of adopting good practice

The first module is scheduled for Thursday 3rd April 2014. If this date is not convenient, contact us to be placed on the waiting list.

Module 2 – The Archivist and Archive Management (1-day) This module will build on the content of module 1 and will provide training on many of the practical aspects involved in running a life-sciences regulated archive. The content of this module will include:

  • The regulatory context (key pertinent GxP regulations)
  • The importance of archiving (evidential value, historical value, operational value, etc)
  • The role of the archivist
  • Managing physical records (paper, wet-tissues, samples and other media)
  • Managing on site archives
  • Managing off-site archives

Date: to be confirmed (July)

Module 3 – Managing Electronic Records (1-day) This module will refer to some of the principles covered on modules 1 and 2 that define the framework for managing electronic records. However, the primary focus will be on content that is specific to the management of digital records. The content of this module will include:

  • Are electronic records any different from physical records?
  • The concept and value of metadata
  • Shared network storage
  • Electronic content management systems
  • Managing electronic mail
  • An introduction to digital preservation

Date: to be confirmed (September)

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