For this executive interview series, we spoke with Tricia Barrett, our senior vice president and managing director, to learn how the company has been impacted by the pandemic. As business continues to grow, Tricia shares not only her thoughts on how Praxis has adapted but also her advice for others moving forward.
JH: How has Praxis adapted during the pandemic?
TB: First and foremost, the entire company went remote so our employees could stay safe and healthy. We are currently working from home and plan to be home the remainder of the year. When it’s safe to return to the office, we will. The good news is that it’s been business as usual for us! Sure, we miss seeing each other every day, but the work hasn’t skipped a beat, and we are able to accommodate our sponsor and site requests remotely. We’ve had to adjust how we work with some of our external vendors (e.g., printing and fulfillment) since we are not in the office, but again, it’s been a seamless transition. We also haven’t been traveling nearly as much as we are used to, which has given us time to rededicate to our families and friends.
JH: What challenges have you faced?
TB: Sure, we’ve had to make adjustments to our process to account for the pandemic, but the biggest challenge as an employer has been trying to take care of everyone. At Praxis we really are like family, so checking in and making sure that our employees and their families are doing all right is of utmost importance. Managing a remote team also has its challenges, especially when our in-office culture is so strong. But I’ve been so proud of the resiliency our team has shown and the efforts everyone is putting forth to maintain our culture. We’ve been very fortunate to be growing and hiring, which is incredible given the times, but it also comes with the added challenge of onboarding and training those remote new hires.
JH: What new solutions are you bringing to the table?
TB: Every protocol we evaluate has unique parameters, so we still take a custom approach to every program we put forth. That said, we are challenging our sponsor and site partners more and more to consider the patient journey as it relates to patient recruitment and retention. What can be done to ensure the process is as easy and manageable for the participants and their care team as possible? For example, decentralized trials (those executed through telemedicine and mobile/local healthcare providers) were widely adopted during COVID-19, and I’m hopeful the industry will continue to consider this approach as a new standard in trial design. We are also finding new ways to work with our outreach partners, particularly advocacy and support groups, many of whom were negatively impacted by the pandemic with layoffs, event cancellations, and a decrease in fundraising efforts. By being nimble, we’ve been able to partner with these groups to create nontraditional solutions for our actively recruiting studies.
JH: What is Praxis’ involvement in the current COVID-19 clinical research?
TB: We are extremely proud to be working on several COVID-19 studies – in both treatment and vaccine solutions. The work has been fast and furious, but it’s also been quite rewarding to see how everyone involved is banding together for the common good of trying to advance science in addressing COVID-19.
We have been turning things around in record time within our own (virtual) walls, but we’ve also seen a tremendous commitment from study teams, legal departments, CROs, IRBs, and even the FDA. I know I speak on behalf of our entire team in saying how proud we are to be playing a small part, and how excited we are to see the impact this research could have on the world.
JH: Anything else you’d like to share regarding the company’s recent efforts?
TB: It is not an easy time. Everyone has been impacted in some way, shape, or form by the pandemic, and I just want to say hang in there. I know that together we will make it through this and be stronger and better for it.
If you’d like to connect with Tricia – or any other member of the Praxis team – to discuss your next clinical trial recruitment campaign, feel free to get in touch.