There is no cure for having to remember countless logins/passwords.
The life sciences industry often faces unique struggles, but there’s one aspect of the modern world where it faces the same dilemma as everyone else.
Ask any office worker how they feel about the number of logins and passwords that they must keep track of, and you’re almost guaranteed to get a negative response. As more and more companies move every aspect of working into the digital world, an increasing number of programs and apps become necessary. With each new app comes a new password that must be maintained. As most would agree, it’s simply not safe to use the same password for every login, which means that employees are expected to remember and regularly update a growing roster of passwords.
This issue came up during a recent conversation I had with Paige Bingham, CEO of Meeting Protocol Worldwide.
“One time, a coordinator at a clinical trial site showed us a binder that was just for one study and it’s all of the logins and the passwords for all of the technology that she had to use,” she said. “That was just one study that that site does, and if you multiply that out, of course they’re overburdened.”
This issue also was raised repeatedly at Veeva’s R&D Summit in Boston, MA, in September. While there, I was able to speak with several industry professionals about ushering the pharma industry into the digital age.
For example, during a roundtable event with Merck’s Cortney Gilbert, senior director of business system management and innovation, he discussed the company’s digital transformation journey. This involved bringing various departments online, each with their own unique needs and issues. These departments then need to be able to communicate this digital information to each other.
“The bulk of the effort is just using brute force to keep everything synthesized that we need, because we don’t have a unified platform,” he said. “We have disparate systems. You must patch them together. That’s where a lot of our time and effort goes.”
Organizations like Veeva offer unified platforms designed to be used across multiple departments. While being able to limit the number of passwords that employees need to keep track of, this also helps solve another problem that’s unique to pharma.
Not every department in a company is going to look at data the same way. This can be due to a variety of reasons, such as logistical or regulatory reasons.
Gilbert offered this example: “Gender is a data element that is evolving. In some cases, regulations will say that gender must be called A,B,C,D, and E, and other regulations might say it’s something else. Then there might be regulations that say we need a data point like gender identified at birth versus gender identified later in life. When you get into that, it’s not even a matter of organizational resistance in any way. It’s a matter of having two things that are super related, and we have to call them something; so how do we do that?”
This isn’t just a theoretical dilemma, either. According to Bingham, this is an issue that workers in the life sciences industry are already struggling with.
“We hear the clinical trial sites and their concerns and issues that they’re having with all the tech that is being thrown at them from every single sponsor,” she said. “Every single study has multiple forms of technology, so things like a single sign-on can just make it that much easier for them to sign on once to access multiple platforms from a single site.”
Bingham points out that that this is an issue that she’s seen raised by everyone from clinical trial site coordinators, investigators, and researchers to even CEOs of major companies.
She continued, “It would be fantastic if there was some way that all these pieces of technology that we’re asking the sites to use for these studies could all talk to each other much more seamlessly, so that the sides aren’t having to enter the same piece of data and information into 20 different systems. We’re not there yet.”
Technology is supposed to make life easier, and in many cases, it can. At the same time, as is the case for most enterprises, including pharma, adding and merging in an overabundance of disconnected programs and apps can create entirely new problems. Workers can find themselves being forced to enter the same piece of data multiple times into different programs, spending more time than they should resetting forgotten passwords, and logging in and out of different programs just to perform simple tasks.