Simplifying Complex Medical Sample Procurement for Tissue & Cancer
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
The Customer: TriMetis Life Sciences
TriMetis helps medical device, pharmaceutical, biotech and academic organizations to better advance their research through specialty laboratory and consultation services.
In this case study, our focus is on how TriMetis’s Biospecimen division, which specializes in acquiring and delivering biospecimens for research, uses Streamline to aid researchers with more accurate and timely biospecimen delivery.
TriMetis has established and refined the biospecimen acquisition process, working with a network of hospital providers to ensure the highest provenance and quality specimens. This specialized process must take into account hospital workflow, ethical oversight, donor demographics, sample format and quality, and biologistics to make sure research specimens meet the specified requirements of research institutions. TriMetis then tracks and delivers biospecimens from hospital providers to client researchers in North America, Europe, South America and Asia.
Types of biospecimens include:
The market for procuring biospecimens for medical research is very complex and has a number of moving parts. First, the typical biospecimen request is necessarily very specific about the types of specimens needed. Secondly, hospitals, clinics and labs providing the various tissue samples often have a small window of opportunity to access and process the samples. Samples then have to be stored and shipped fresh immediately or stored in specialized containers designed to maintain that specific tissue in a viable state for the researcher. “Our industry is logistics-centric,” said Leif Honda, TriMetis’s Senior Vice President of Business Development. “We had tried three different software applications that did some inventory and manufacturing pieces and a little bit of logistics. They were good at parts, just not the whole process. We couldn’t track movement and inventory. We needed a just-in-time inventory and a logistics system that could support worldwide handling and logistics.” Honda found Streamline through the Salesforce AppExchange program. “I reached out to Streamline and since that day they have been committed to making it work for us.”
“Our business is predicated on how well we deliver what researchers need.”Leif Honda, TriMetis Senior Vice President, Business Development
Biospecimen Procurement Workflow
The process starts when researchers provide TriMetis with a request for specimens. TriMetis offers guidance and real-world experience to produce a viable study design and final protocol on which their collaborators can deliver. Once the study design is completed, a quote is issued and a protocol is finalized. In order to conduct a study, the final protocol must be approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and, if necessary, require Center for Disease Control (CDC) and export permits.
Before TriMetis begins a project, it provides clients a clear set of timelines, reimbursements, kitting, protected medical data forms, and handling and logistics instructions. Upon approval, a TriMetis logistics specialist coordinates with hospitals, clinics and labs (the suppliers) to screen eligible donors. Streamline helps TriMetis assure the proper timing, coordination and tracking essential for assuring quality research specimens from one to many providers for a client project.
An outline of the biospecimen procurement workflow, including multiple shipments on one PO to site/collaborator (e.g., a hostpital, clinic or lab). Streamline also provides for easy tracking and simple coordination of payments.
TriMetis then sends its clients updates and study data when available. At the completion of the study, a final report is issued to the designated contact.
In more detail, these are the specific steps in the procurement process:
Capture the requirements of the client researcher.
Translate requirements into project data for Streamline, which assigns a project number.
TriMetis plugs in the client name, details about the project, the client specifics for specimens, age range, treatment history, etc.
Using these project details, TriMetis solicits providers to find out how often they see those types of patients.
Once TriMetis hears back from one or more suppliers, it can send quotes to the client. A PO number is created by the client and a dollar amount issued.
Streamline tracks items filled for the order and what’s outstanding. It also tracks dollar amounts on filled orders. From there, an invoice to the appropriate research client is generated.
Payments are recorded when received.
One reason for TriMetis’s selection of Streamline is that it’s part of the Salesforce app cloud. As a Saleforce client, that made Streamline an off-the-shelf solution perfectly adaptable for TriMetis’s needs. By providing a more holistic view of their entire supply chain, from inbound logistics to client delivery, Streamline helps TriMetis to better maintain order integrity, reduce the cost of quality and track shipments in real time. “Streamline has allowed us to run different types of reports,” said Dynelle Mackey, TriMetis Biologistics Manager. “Project and progress reports, which types of specimen opportunities turned into orders. Streamline is well suited for meeting the varying demands of our biospecimen clients and suppliers.” The Streamline system was first implemented in April 2016 and Mackey has been backfilling the application with data to help get the system up to speed and serving customers. Dynamic Multi-Vendor Order Management Streamline added new capabilities because of TriMetis’s need for dynamic multi-order management, which accommodates one vendor to one order, one vendor to many orders or many vendors to one order. This allows each vendor to fulfill the order with the medical specimen inventory in stock or soon to be procured. The client can then be invoiced for each discrete item shipped, even if the supplier cannot produce all samples on the original request. These order transactions can be long-lived for weeks or even months. Streamline enables TriMetis logistics specialists to manage these complex transactions while tracking items fulfilled versus those still outstanding.
Streamline also provides project management solutions to manage which quotes/orders/purchase orders/shipments/invoices are associated with a specific project.
Streamline is also developing new features to help TriMetis manage client receiving of samples and, when necessary, return merchandise authorizations (RMAs) for tissue samples that don’t meet specifications and need to be returned to the vendor for replacement.
Example of some of the data on the Streamline order manager page for TriMetis. “We can track progress, assign an order to a particular supplier. It allows us to be more efficient.”Dynelle Mackey, TriMetis Biologistics Manager
A better picture of costs: Getting a better handle on costs was one of the driving forces for TriMetis in selecting Streamline. As Leif Honda stated, “We can get a much better sense of cost – receivables, a real-time snapshot of what we’re owed without adding to our accounting staff. We want to be nimble and know where things are. And knowing when (sample) solutions are going to expire.”
Reducing research lead time: Providing clients with a more accurate sense of costs helps to free them to focus more of their time and resources on research. “One of the major factors on why research takes so long and takes a lot of money is that vendors don’t have a good handle on it,” Honda explained. “If it takes two years to get certain types of specimens needed for a study, that’s wait time that’s needed, not real research time. We’re trying to undo that.”
Finding the right patient samples: Technology has an important role to play in helping to manage costs and procuring tissue samples that will help research move forward. “The most important part of the research effort, particularly in cancer, is in patient access,” Honda said. “Finding those patients are like finding a needle in a haystack. We’re dealing with doctors who have a limited amount of time to pay attention to logistics.”
Security: Security is also another important consideration when it comes to handling tissue samples from patients. Federal HIPAA requirements are designed to protect patient privacy and doctor and patient confidentiality. Streamline provides a secure environment for physicians at donor hospitals and researchers alike, aiding their risk mitigation efforts.
Real-time updates: Finally, Streamline report analytics offer detailed information that lets researchers view in real time where they stand with tissue sample collections for their study.
The Streamline platform fosters faster growth and quality. Streamline’s features are scaled to the business and enables TriMetis to track each step in shipping and delivery to assure the quality and volume of samples that meet researchers’ needs. Altogether an efficient growth platform.
Simplified. Using Streamline to consolidate its logistics tracking efforts allowed TriMetis to eliminate three other software packages.
Real-time view. Streamline’s just-in-time features help TriMetis to procure better quality of samples, which also helps researchers to get more valid data.
Instant reporting. “For the first time, we’ve been able to see reports, like outstanding invoices,” said Mackey. “It’s really nice that we can report on anything that hits the Streamline process.
”Empowering research professionals. “We want to empower people in these research companies so they have good data, real-time access and help them do research,” Honda said. “We need the core infrastructure to get out of the dark ages by delivering samples when they’re most helpful and most needed. That only comes from using fresh tissues. We’ve got to break down a lot of walls. We’re judged by our results. This is the cornerstone of our business. We get judged on our delivery at the right time.”
“We see ourselves where cable TV was when it provided just barely more than the three main networks and TBS. Then cable became a growing concern.”Leif Honda