With blog contributor Sean Rinehart, Director, PFS Clinical
Easy? Check. Transparent? Check. Real-time? Check.
That’s what clients should experience when placing service requests with us. Ideally, requesting services should be as easy as ordering a pizza, with nearly the level of transparency of one of those smartphone pizza delivery apps. While our services don’t translate directly to dinner delivery, offering a deliverable services tracking software that allows real-time, transparent communication between our research administration team and our client organizations felt important to us. This post will give you a bit of background information and update you on the progress of Latitude, our newly developed self-service client portal for ordering PFS Clinical’s services, tracking delivery, and benchmarking performance.
Creating our “Self-Service Client Portal”
The nature of our business requires that our experts in research administration work closely with the organizations we partner with. Through years of experience working as an extension of individual institutions’ research teams, we’ve learned that efficient communication is vital to the success of our clients’ research programs. It’s important for our client partners to know the status of projects in our hands, and alerting them to items needing their input or review is essential. Although our processes worked on a number of levels, we recognized that there were client needs that could be met more effectively with a more responsive, software-enabled infrastructure.
When first considering how software could aid in the ordering, delivery, and tracking of our clinical research administration services, we knew we needed to find something that wouldn’t burden our clients’ IT departments and wouldn’t require additional licensing for their institutions. We looked for third-party systems that could satisfy our clients’ needs as well as enable our internal processes, but nothing we found was flexible enough to fit the individual practices of the research organizations we partner with, nor did we find an option equipped to support our internal operations. To allow for the customization and transparency necessary for the health of our clients’ research programs, we decided that building our own web-based software was the way to go.
What does Latitude do?
Over the past year and a half, we’ve been optimizing our deliverable services around our new tracking system called Latitude. Instead of updating Excel-based project trackers on a weekly basis, we’ve replaced these once-weekly updates with Latitude’s real-time services tracking capabilities. In just a few clicks, clients can place a request for services—no lengthy forms to fill out, and no significant user training needed. We do the heavy lifting so clients can focus on other tasks that make research successful for their institutions.
Additionally, the organization of services built into Latitude helps our staff increase project turnaround times. These benefits also allow institutions to gain real-time insights into the elements of their administrative portfolio that are maintained in partnership with PFS Clinical. Latitude can even enable views for internal administrative stakeholders, allowing them to track only the project and service statuses important to them.
Probably the best thing about Latitude is that using the software involves no extra charge for the research institutions we work with. There’s no client IT involvement needed, and there are no HR personnel lists to update—with usernames and password in hand, just open your browser and go.
What is the current status of Latitude?
Through months of analysis, design, and software development, we began testing our new system last summer. Since September 2017, our research administration team has been using Latitude to track all client service requests, and we’ve recently started to invite clients to use the software in what we’re calling our “system beta.” A large number of our clients are already using our client portal to submit new project requests, check statuses, and identify opportunities to improve their processes.
Currently, we’re working with our client users to incorporate their feedback into the design and implementation of Latitude. Our goal is for this interface to grow to meet the current and future needs of both our clients and our staff, ultimately benefitting our clients’ research programs and the patients they serve.
If you’re a current client, just chat with your service lead about getting access to Latitude if you haven’t already. If you’re already using Latitude, let us know how it’s working for you!