Accelerating clinical operations for the remote workforce

Box Industry POV

Welcome to our Work Unleashed series: a collection of posts from Box executives and conversations with Box customers on navigating the "new normal" of work today. Here, you'll find insights and resources that enable your teams to do their best work, anywhere, anytime.

The way we work has been evolving, and now more than ever. I recall the yesteryears of the 'Handshake Era' when it used to take a team of four people in a conference room working overtime to build a critical integration. And today, whether its in response to the COVID-19 pandemic or tackling existing drug pipeline commitments from a newly acquired home office setting, Life Sciences companies across the globe are ramping up workforce productivity solutions, ensuring all their knowledge workers are armed with the tools necessary to deliver on their commitments and bring life saving therapies to market.

These are unprecedented times for Life sciences where major manufacturers are putting competitive engagements and pipeline commitments on the back burner, and instead collaborating with each other on R&D efforts, starting with the development of testing kits. The race for the vaccine is on but collaboration not competition is the sentiment. And sharing of research data amongst scientists and working closely with regulatory agencies to remove friction is going to be the critical path to success.

In this environment of global disruption, IT leaders across Life Sciences are stepping up to the challenge and reacting quickly to enable the digital workforce across their organization to operate in this 'new normal'. Although remote work is not new to Life Sciences, there have been varied levels of remote workforce support, but never at this scale. After setting up testing and deploying basic hardware and tools, management is now shifting focus to workforce productivity. And with the need to collaborate outside their digital walls at an all time high, IT leaders look to balance remote workforce productivity with compliance and security risks.

On the front lines, clinical trials are being adversely affected due to the pressure on the healthcare system.  Running clinical trials is heavily nuanced in each organization, and now researchers and clinicians working on other life saving therapies are forced to operate remotely. Significant time and effort is spent on bringing together various actors such as study associates, trial managers, investigators and site personnel. See figure below


This is a many-to-many relationship where documents and assets originate from either side of the digital wall  and require approvals from multiple actors. Today, these clinicians still have to worry about managing study budgets, IRB documentation, and collaborating on various study startup documents all the while keeping their data secure and compliant, from home. 

As a cloud collaboration platform, Box has been supporting Biopharma for over a decade in simplifying how knowledge workers centralize their assets and organize collaborative workspaces with their internal and external partners. For IT executives across biopharmas, Box has been a critical platform in the 'Self Serve' philosophy and allows secure collaboration across all R&D functions without VPN constraints. 

"I am happy to say the investments we have made in IT tools and partners like Box have truly enabled us to adapt quickly and successfully under these life altering conditions." 

CIO, Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical Company

So how do you maximize workforce productivity, while staying secure and compliant with Box? For my colleagues supporting clinical operations, here are some points to consider: 

  • Automate Basics  Using Box Relay, create a simple review and approval workflow that meets sponsors SOPs accelerating communications between these user groups. Plus, best support geographically distributed teams and reduce reliance on email confirmations.
  • Secure Workspaces Using the granular permissions available at the folder level in Box, create study centric taxonomy that mirrors priorities of clinical in terms of active studies. This will ensure each user has access to only study content that they are participating in regardless of their location.
  • Faster Onboarding By creating an on boarding workflow that provides access to all the required trainings for a particular trial, vendors can sign off on on boarding documents from any device. Accelerate the time it takes for internal study managers to work with their counterparts at a vendor on a critical SAS dataset with Box. 
  • Study level Metadata Study centric planning can be enforced by creating custom metadata templates in the admin console and applying tags to the study folders for ease of search on study related documents.
  • Quick payments Allow operations to continue without interruption to vendor services by activating integrations to contract payment solutions in the cloud like Netsuite. This will maintain a zero IT footprint and allows tracking payments to the right vendors.

As IT leaders in Life Sciences today refactor their resources and budgets to operate in this new normal, they also know that this is their time to shine. Pipeline commitments will get renewed and people will return to work, but ensuring the right business continuity plans today will set IT up to become a true innovation partner that will far outlast the pandemic. 

No matter what stage you are in of the remote productivity maturity curve, Box is 100% committed to supporting your cause by streamlining and powering the way you work remotely. To help you manage through this transition, we've also published a list of resources with best practices, articles and trainings at and some additional on demand resources: