BRIEF

Four Tips to Help Pharma Lab IT Teams Accelerate Your Research

Introduction

A pharma lab’s IT infrastructure can largely determine the success of data collection and transfer… data that can then be organized and analyzed to drive key research decisions.

As in most other fields, technology plays a key role in the day-to-day operations of pharma labs. While more sophisticated instruments and infomatics are driving progress in the pharma industry, these developments also create a need for equally sophisticated – and specialized – lab IT service and solutions.

A pharma lab’s IT infrastructure can largely determine the success of data collection and transfer… data that can then be organized and analyzed to drive key research decisions.

No matter what operating platform your lab has in place, an up-to-date system description and data governance plan should be documented and readily available. It should detail critical information such as physical and logistical arrangements, data flow, necessary interfaces with other systems or processes, hardware and software prerequisites, and security measures.

Here are four tips to accelerate your research via optimized lab IT solutions.


1. Mitigate cybersecurity risks

Given the proprietary nature of pharma R&D work, as well as the amount of protected health information involved, labs have extra incentive to ensure appropriate IT safeguards are in place. These safeguards can take many forms, from using robust authentication during login to backing up data in real time to streamline disaster recovery.

The FDA keeps records of security events involving various medical devices, which is particularly relevant to pharma labs in the setting of instrument-to-instrument communication or biometric data collection. This can help labs remain vigilant and collaborative in preventing cybersecurity breaches.

Despite your best efforts, a catastrophic, villainous cyberattack on your labs may one day succeed. We recommend preparing for a total system loss, as opposed to only being ready for a partial failure. This means using cloud or virtualization technology and investing in offline IT backup for critical systems.


2. Make sure your systems are up to date

Having a supported, up-to-date operating system not only ensures efficiency and proper data communication, but also contributes to overall lab IT security. Keep security patches current to increase the integrity of the system. Having uninterrupted network connectivity means smoother transmission of data, and labs often find it beneficial to work off the latest version of whichever data management system you have in place.


3. Reduce frequent failures by adopting high-performing systems

Apart from creating frustration, underperforming systems can also lead to frequent IT failures. Examples include being unable to access the lab’s e-notebook or being unable to collect vast amounts of data being run as part of a certain stage of an experiment. Failures like these can prevent the timely processing of data and increase the likelihood of errors.

For these reasons, one of the best investments labs can make is implementing a high-performing data management system, which also ideally comes with a robust support service.


4. Keep up with technology

Lab scientists often juggle multiple roles, which can extend beyond bench research to include administrative duties, teaching, or leadership in industry organizations. This doesn’t leave a great deal of time for ongoing IT training, which might be necessary to get the most out of instruments and data management systems. For this reason, having scientists and IT on the same team is a winning strategy.

Having IT experts who can jump in and solve equipment problems can relieve a great deal of frustration and prevent losses in research time and progress. Lab scientists, while knowledgeable about their work, are not necessarily qualified to troubleshoot their instruments and equipment - at least, not without some training. Some vendors offer customized training, with the goal of helping lab staff fully utilize their instruments and IT solutions.


Conclusion

As in most other fields, technology plays a key role in the day-to-day operations of pharma labs. While more sophisticated instruments and informatics are driving progress in the pharma industry, these developments also create a need for equally sophisticated – and specialized – lab IT service and solutions.

Sources:

  1. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/digital-health/cybersecurity
  2. https://www.fda.gov/media/70970/download
  3. https://www.perkinelmer.com/uk/category/education-training