Trial Document Management: What You Should Know
by Abdul Aziz Mondal Business Development 17 May 2023
If you oversee clinical research, you’re well aware of the complexities associated with managing critical trial documents. From ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements to maintaining accuracy and accessibility, the process can be overwhelming. However, with the right knowledge and tools, you can get over the hurdles and stay on top of your trial documents.
Types of Trial Documents
The first step in managing critical trial documents is understanding what types of documents you’ll be dealing with. Informed consent forms provide potential study participants with information about the trial, its risks and benefits, and what you expect of them if they decide to participate. You must write ICFs in language that is easy for the participant to understand.
Case report forms collect data during a clinical trial. They are often paper-based and contain fields for the study coordinator to fill in with data collected from the participant.
Investigator brochures provide information about the investigational product that your team is testing. The trial’s sponsor usually writes these brochures, and they contain information about the drug’s pharmacology, toxicology, and any other relevant information.
The protocol outlines the study design, objectives, methodology, and statistical considerations for a clinical trial. It’s a crucial document that discusses how your team will conduct the trial and collect data.
Best Practices For Clinical Trial Management
Now that you know the different types of trial documents, there are some best practices your team should use to manage them. For one, accurate and complete records are essential for any clinical trial. You must keep track of all documents related to the trial, including ICFs, CRFs, IBs, and the protocol.
Ensure that everyone properly labels, dates, and stores all documents in a safe and secure location. You should also have a system in place to track and monitor any changes people have made to the documents.
With the advent of digital technology, managing clinical trial documents has become more accessible than ever before. One of the most important tools you can use is an eTMF for emerging biotech. eTMF systems allow you to store and track all the documents related to your trial, including protocols, informed consents, case report forms, and adverse event reports, in a centralized location.
eTMF systems also provide real-time access to documents and facilitate collaboration between teams, enabling faster decision-making and reducing the risk of errors. Moreover, these systems offer advanced search and reporting capabilities, making it easier to keep track of deadlines, milestones, and compliance requirements.
It’s also good to have a document management plan that outlines how your team should create, review, approve, and store documents during the clinical trial. The plan should also detail who will be responsible for managing the documents, and how long your team should retain the documents after the trial has ended.
When devising a document management plan, remember to specify the method of destruction, which could be shredding, incineration, or other secure methods. You should keep records of the destruction process and ensure that each step is compliant with the policies and regulations.
Clinical trials involve multiple stakeholders, including sponsors, investigators, site personnel, and regulatory bodies. Each stakeholder manages a variety of documents that are difficult to keep track of, and it’s even harder to ensure compliance with all regulations and guidelines. Moreover, different stakeholders may have different requirements for documentation, leading to inconsistencies and errors.
One of the biggest challenges is maintaining version control. It’s not uncommon for different versions of documents to be in circulation simultaneously, leading to confusion and errors. Additionally, regulatory bodies may require your team to change the documents during the trial, further complicating the version control process.
Another challenge is ensuring that the documents are secure and confidential. According to the HIPAA Journal, the US Department of Health had 5,150 reports of data breaches between October 2009 and December 2022. Clinical trial documents often contain sensitive and confidential information, and you must protect them from unauthorized access and disclosure.
Clinical trials can be difficult, and it’s easy for things to go wrong. Even if you’re conducting short-term studies with a small sample size, you have to keep your documents in order if you want things to go smoothly. This is why it’s important to have a game plan going in. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can avoid issues and make the most out of each study.