3 Keys to Managing Capacity in the Laboratory
80% of open studies on the NIHR clinical research network are set to be delivered on time following a new government initiative to fund clinical research in the UK.
This incentive has come at a critical point in the UK’s clinical research timeline.
Over 40% of non-COVID 19 related research was paused during 2020, driving critical delays that have yet to bridged.
In 2023, as organisations begin to pick up delayed research, trial portfolios have become inflated, resulting in heightened pressure on research teams and a growing need for skilled personnel to deliver these trials.
The ABPI report that a lack of NHS research capacity in terms of staffing and turnover, alongside slow set up times are the two key challenges facing UK clinical trial research today.
In this article, I will outline three essential keys to managing capacity and accelerating timeframes in today’s clinical laboratory.
Read on to find out more about:
- Minimising risk when increasing capacity
- Adapting at speed to meet variable business demands
- Harnessing digitalisation in clinical research
Minimising risk when increasing capacity
When research projects are navigating funding rounds, increasing staff capacity by hiring employees poses both a challenge and opportunity.
Despite additional personnel playing a key role to ensure that the team has the staffing capacity to complete projects successfully, if the funding round is unsuccessful, or finances are generally under projected estimations or for a time limited period, taking on permanent employees under your own headcount can lead to redundancies, and subsequent gaps in research knowledge.
This can delay research as time is taken away from the project towards recruitment, and recouping gaps in the team.
To minimise this risk while still supplementing the workforce, insourced laboratory services like Synergy, support scientific teams with insourced trained scientific and clinical laboratory staff.
The insourcing model means that your projects can be delivered using our flexible resource of scientists, enabling laboratories to expand without the same budget concerns or risks. Our service also offers improved financial flexibility as our teams can fall under OPEX budgets rather than FTE expenditure.
Adapting at speed to meet variable business demands
The scientific skills gap continues to challenge laboratories across the UK and beyond with limited access to talent - 36% of drug developers say that staff shortages are limiting the progress of clinical trials today.
Meanwhile, innovation is rife in research, with new modalities like cell, gene, immune and mRNA therapies rapidly gaining momentum over the small molecule market.
These ongoing innovations are heightening the skills divide between the current clinical workforce, and prospective employees, making it all the more time consuming for clinical research laboratories to successfully find, and hire the experts they need to fuel progress.
This challenge is made all the more complex by the fact that many aspects of research are variable depending on the evolving scope of the project, particularly in early clinical research phases.
Adapting laboratory recruitment to suit variable business requirements means establishing access to an agile, and flexible staffing solution.
Synergy support with this by providing trained teams of expert scientists on-site, while providing the leadership and management support to ensure development, to meet evolving project demands. This bespoke model means you can flex the scale of production according to variable business requirements without the additional add on time needed for permanent resourcing.
Harnessing digitalisation in clinical research
The ways in which clinical research is conducted has irrevocably evolved post-COVID.
In 2021, the NHS-Galleri trial paved the way for the industry’s use of healthcare data in rapid, large scale patient recruitment.
In the same year, clinical research sites approached about new clinical trials using a decentralised model overwhelmingly chose to participate citing previous experience, benefits to patient populations and opportunities to modernise as the primary drivers behind their decision.
In the lab, robotics like those used in Novo Nordisk’s Research Centre Oxford, demonstrate the potential for automation in streamlining work in the lab.
However, recent industry analyses led by the ABPI reveal that skills shortages in informatics, computation, mathematical and statistical skills are significant across the UK clinical workforce – and competition for qualified professionals is rising.
The global pharmaceutical industry experienced a 63% increase in the number of new job postings related to artificial intelligence in Q3 of 2022, compared to Q2 of 2021.
Harnessing digitalisation effectively without immediate or easy access to talent can be challenging without the right staffing support.
Synergy empower scientific organisations to overcome digital skills shortages with our trained and managed insourced laboratory staff. For every client project, we put together a team of expert staff with the right abilities and skills to achieve target deliverables, while supporting and upskilling professionals without adding to your internal workload.
Find out more about Synergy
Synergy is a scientific service provider who specialise in partnering with laboratories across the globe to help scientists ‘break free’ from operational constraints to ‘break through’ in science.
We work closely and collaboratively with our clients, creating tailored solutions before training and managing teams of integrated staff to complete protocol-driven tasks to enhance your business efficiency.
About the author: Harvey joined Synergy in December 2022 as business development manager for both the UK and EU regions. Harvey brings a wealth of clinical and business experience from over 25 years in pharmaceuticals and medical devices. His work has involved uncovering pinch points in NHS service delivery and working collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders to improve treatment pathways. He has a passion for ‘doing the right thing’ and has led on several projects which have directly benefitted patient outcomes. Click here to connect with Harvey on LinkedIn
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