A Phased Approach to QMS
A phased approach to quality management systems (QMS) ensures quality is embedded at every stage, from discovery to post study. A common misconception in the manufacturing and research development landscape is quality systems can be bought off the shelf and there are no significant differences among the proliferation of quality systems.
Clinical research is grounded in scientific integrity, participant safety, and data reliability. A robust QMS is an integral component of clinical research. A ReadyQMS approach to implementing QMS within the clinical research lifecycle ensures a structured and comprehensive methodology to maintain quality throughout the research process.
Establishing a quality mindset at this phase sets the stage for effective enterprise quality planning. A key first step in a phased approach is risk assessment: Before conducting any clinical research, assess any potential risks to patient safety, data integrity, and regulatory compliance. This involves identifying all critical processes in the trial and any potential hazards or deviations potentially arising.
Building a quality framework at the pre-clinical stage is critical for setting the stage for timely and compliant study startup. An effective QMS must include standard operating procedure (SOP) development. These SOPs serve as the foundation for consistent execution and accountability for staff throughout the study. Procedures for every process in the trial, from patient recruitment to data management, are documented in SOPs.
Design Protocol and Planning
The trial design itself is meticulously planned to ensure the trial’s scientific rigor and relevant. This often includes:
- Formulation of objectives
- Patient populations
- Statistical analyses
Identifying adequate resources, including qualified personnel, appropriate facilities, and necessary equipment, are characterized and allocated. The quality of these resources plays a pivotal role in the trial itself. At this stage, many sponsors are working with their strategic partners to supplement internal expertise to provide the most beneficial outcomes.
Training and Competency Assessment
In addition to identifying resources, training and competency assessments are built into a quality framework. Every member of the clinical trial team undergoes rigorous training on the trial protocol, SOPs, regulatory requirements, and other pertinent topics. Competency assessments are essential to ensure the team is qualified and prepared.
Study startup activity checklists are both extensive and exhaustive. A phased approach QMS means processes are finalized under an established quality framework. It also means everyone is following the same procedures to ensure both ethical and unbiased participant recruitment.
Monitoring quality and compliance is the bedrock of a ready QMS during study conduct. Regular monitoring of trial sites ensures everyone is following the correct SOPs and protocols. Audits, which are independent evaluations, are periodically performed to verify compliance with regulatory standards and the trial protocol. Data collection and management and quality checks are set in place to ensure data accuracy, consistency, and integrity. Data management processes involve timely data entry, validation, and review.
Once the trial is complete, data is statistically analyzed and findings are reported. This phase requires a stringent QMS to ensure the integrity of the results. All trial documents, including raw data, consent forms, communications, and reports, are archived as per regulatory requirements. This ensures any future queries or inspections can be adequately addressed. Post-trial, a comprehensive review is undertaken to evaluate the successes and areas of improvement. Lessons learned are used to enhance the QMS for future research.
The clinical research lifecycle’s phased approach to QMS ensures quality is embedded at every stage, from initiation to closure. By incorporating QMS at the discovery stage, regulatory agencies are assured that clinical trials are compliant and protect participants’ safety as well as ultimately leading to reliable results benefitting patients and advancing medical science.