There’s no doubt that clinical research is undergoing rapid and profound shifts. Trials are becoming more costly and complex, and it’s more necessary than ever that researchers choose solutions that reliably streamline workflows and successfully facilitate trials on time and on budget. Researchers need more peace of mind and bandwidth to focus on saving lives and improving public health – not additional complications. Because of this, intuitiveness and reliability are essential elements weaved into the design of our EDC and eSource suite.
However, it’s not just about the software. Having industry pros on staff that have walked in the shoes of clinical researchers is also important to a seamless eClinical experience. Part of the reason we have a 98% customer satisfaction rating is the people. We recently sat down with Laurin Willetts, an industry veteran and Medrio Customer Success Manager who has personal experience building and deploying studies in Medrio. Take a look at our interview for a deep dive into how her experience in ClinOps and clinical data management gives her unique insight and motivation to promote customer success.
From industry to Medrio
Medrio: Thanks for joining us, Laurin. Can you start by telling us a little about your experience working in clinical research?
Laurin Willetts: Well, I graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Biotechnology and started my career working for a large diagnostics company in San Diego. My experience began in the lab – working in R&D for a few years – before deciding to branch out to the other end of the product pipeline: clinical trials.
From there, I accumulated over 15 years of clinical operations experience, working my way up from Clinical Research Associate to Clinical Program Manager. So, I have a lot of experience with clinical monitoring, as well as trial management and conduct. I enjoyed working at the end of the product lifecycle and being closely involved with the process for FDA approval. I also really liked interacting with our clinical sites and seeing how the product was being used to impact patient lives.
M: Have you worked with EDC systems in the past?
LW: Yes, I worked with two EDC systems across my years in ClinOps. The first was from a large company, and we used it to move all of our diagnostic studies from paper. Unfortunately though, being new to the EDC industry, we ended up with a product that needed to be highly customized in-house for diagnostics data capture and clinical trial sample tracking.
This customization made getting support from the manufacturer extremely challenging. We had a long and bumpy implementation road and were mostly left to fend for ourselves when we encountered issues and errors. We had to create many custom user guides, SOPs, and infrastructure around our EDC to smooth things out. Also, we had huge data management and SAS teams responsible for programming and system maintenance.
After that experience, I moved to a small point-of-care diagnostics company that was planning to use Medrio in their very first clinical trial. At this start-up, I comprised the entire clinical affairs team, including ClinOps and data management. So, I was responsible for building and deploying the study in Medrio, rolling it out to sites, and managing the study and Medrio users. The fact that I could easily handle this process from start to finish pretty much blew my mind. I had no idea it could be so simple!
M: Why did you decide to pursue a career at Medrio?
LW: Well, as often happens at start-ups, there was a large round of lay-offs after a strategy shift, and I was included in that group of people let go. Afterward, I started thinking about what sort of company I wanted to work for next and thought back to Medrio’s user conference. I remembered meeting a bunch of Medrio employees and was inspired by their passion and enthusiasm. Mike Novotny’s keynote speech was also a highlight for me, and I made a point of chatting with him afterward about my EDC experience.
A while later, I noticed an opening at Medrio for a Customer Success Manager, and it seemed too good to be true. I was a successful Medrio customer! What better way to combine my industry knowledge and love of Medrio than by helping make other customers successful?
M: What does enabling customer success at Medrio mean to you?
LW: I strive to form strong, collaborative partnerships. I ensure customers take full advantage of our software and utilize it in the best way possible to achieve their business objectives. Also, one of my most important responsibilities is to serve as a customer advocate – making sure their voices are heard.
M: What does customer success mean at Medrio?
LW: Customers first is a cultural tenant here. Medrio believes customers’ success is our success. As a former Medrio customer myself, this was already so clear and a huge part of why I came to work here.
M: How does your industry experience translate into your day-to-day at Medrio?
LW: Having monitored and managed clinical trials in my past life allows me to speak the same language as my customers. It permits me to truly empathize with their struggles and challenges. My base knowledge of the regulations governing clinical trials also helps me understand our software’s design and the hurdles sponsors and Contract Research Organizations (CROs) face. Having both positive and negative EDC use experiences, it’s especially important that my customers have a smooth eClinical experience. I want to give them more bandwidth to focus on conducting successful trials and saving patient lives.
M: What do you believe is the future of the clinical research industry? How do you think customer success ties into that?
LW: Well, the healthcare industry is quickly moving toward personalized medicine, meaning more clinical trials and data-driven outcomes. To understand the impact our genetic code has on medicine will likely require huge studies over many years. Also, I think biobanking studies are going to become more widespread as researchers look to tie gene variants to traits and ailments in people.
Because of these shifts, it will be imperative that researchers have robust tools to collect, store, and archive clinical trial data. It will also be essential to have a supportive, customers-first EDC vendor who cares about the wellbeing of their clinical trials, data integrity, and overall outcome.
M: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.
LW: Thank you!