Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Merry Xmas

Merry Xmas to everyone using Spinnaker  

During the year you randomised patients, published results and initiated new research. 2017 is our biggest year yet with 11 trials on our books. 2017 highlights include:
  • over 5,200 patients were randomised this year using Spinnaker
  • TARGET(Monash) and NovelSTART(MRINZ) completed enrolments 
  • Bryn Gilbertson joined the team to manage TTM2 and TAME
  • we added 2 new servers to our flotilla. We named them Platypus and Discovery (yes there is a new Star Trek series out)
Spiral continues to grow because of what you do. Your projects are the reason we come to work each day and the success of your projects is our most important goal. Thanks for being on board and using our software.
We are having a break over summer but be sure that OUR SUPPORT FOR YOU NEVER STOPS. 

While you are playing cricket on the beach or eating too much ham, our infrastructure team will be monitoring Spinnaker, making sure everything is running smoothly and that your trials can be accessed when you need them.
All the best for the New Year!

Friday, November 17, 2017


Enrolment completed this week!

What a phenomenal achievement from everyone involved in TARGET.  Congratulations because in just 18 months 46 intensive care units in Australia and New Zealand enrolled 4,000 patients.

That's an average of 7.5 patients a day!  

The busiest day was the 4th of August when 25 patients were enrolled. Crazy!

And it wasn’t just enrolling patients and following up … there were so many bags of treatment to reconcile! … and so many large boxes to manage! 

 Congratulations to you all.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

We layered up our Firewall in the fight against cyber hacking

There has been a firewall protecting our clinical trial servers (and your data) ever since we put our first project in the cloud” in 2013. In the past 5 years we have had no incidents but in our striving for excellence we have gone one step further and added another layer of protection.  

In line with increasing threats and the availability of better protection, we have enhanced our firewall protection with additional layers for DDoS Mitigation, Virtual Patching, and prevention of Zero-Day Exploits. The additional firewall adds an extra level of armour to our servers (yes its a war out there!), will help protect your data and reduces the risk of downtime.  
How will the firewall do all that?
In a nutshell; all traffic for our #1 server is routed through this firewall where suspicious traffic is trashed before legitimate traffic is passed on to #1 server.  In more detail it will: 
  • Block hack attempts. The firewall filters traffic and blocks malicious traffic and attacks
  • Stop brute force attacks. Every application in the cloud gets hit with automated hacker tools known as brute force attacks. If login credentials, for your study, are guessed through one of these attacks hackers can gain access to the application. Our new firewall stops these attacks early.
  • Mitigate DDoS attacks. Distributed Denial of Service attacks can cause downtime for applications. These type of attacks, where multiple computers and multiple internet connections are used to flood the bandwidth on a server, are a nuisance because they prevent legitimate users logging in.
  • Prevent Zero Day Exploits. New vulnerabilities are being discovered by hackers every day. By partnering with firewall experts who have systems to intelligently stop suspicious behaviour we can stop these exploits even if there is no patch.
On with the battle to keep your data safe!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

TARGET Case Study Published

As the TARGET Trial races towards the successful enrolment of its 4,000 patients, we are pleased to publish a case study of our involvement in the project.

TARGET involves 46 ICU's in both New Zealand and Australia. The trial commenced in 2016, it has been recruiting at extremely high rates. Enrolments will be completed early, certainly by the end of 2017.

 With over 100,000 bags of study treatment supplied as part of this trial, some smart stock management was needed. Spinnaker delivered on that. We are very pleased we have been able to help with streamlining the inventory management, delivery, reconciliation and patient allocation right into the CRF. Hopefully making your job easier.

You can read the full case study on our trial summary page over on the Spinnaker website.   You will also find a PDF of the case study, PDF of the TARGET Fact Sheet and a link to an interview with the Chief Investigator answering questions about the trial.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Plus has started enrolments

Time to celebrate as the PLUS Trial has begun taking enrolments. 
For the team at The George Institute and us here at Spiral it’s a major milestone. Enrolments mean the completion of the development stage and advancement towards the target of enrolling 8,800 patients. 

Enrolments also mean the first shipments of study treatment have been delivered. The ordering process, the receipt of shipments at each hospital and then resupply are all handled via our software, Spinnaker.

To reach this point we do a lot of testing of the software and the database used in the trial.  Bryn was kept busy for weeks checking that Spinnaker matched what was requested, after which the team at The George Institute got stuck in and tested the clinical side of things. Enrolment time for us is about making sure everything is ready including:
  • setting up the monitoring
  • cleaning up the database 
  • making sure we are available for technical support on go-live day
  • copying the project to a development server so we are ready for any upcoming changes or issues

Once the project is live” and enrolling patients, our work is not finished, we:
  • continue to monitor the response speed and activity on the project
  • monitor for teething problems
  • do extra testing to double check everything is running smoothly
  • monitor and manage the servers that host the study software and database
We also have some clever automations that run in the background and make sure things are ticking along with the trial. 

We do this for each project and PLUS was no exception. 

Congratulations to the PLUS team at The George Institute and to all the sites participating in the early enrolments. Today, 25 patients are enrolled with only 8,775 to go!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Congratulations to the winner of the Spiral iPad in Queenstown

We were at the ANZICS-CTG Winter Research Forum in Queenstown last week. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a conference. I especially enjoyed being able to give away an iPad to the best “conference” photo on twitter.
Congratulations to Samantha Bates for her fabulous photo of The Remarkables reflected in her car mirror and the clever caption that went along with it.
The forum provided an informal opportunity for investigators to gain early advice and feedback on research proposals, to explore issues relevant to study design and conduct in ANZ ICUs and to foster a collaborative approach to study development within the CTG. Five of the trials listed on the program are, or will be, using our software; these are TTM2, TAME, TARGET, PLUS and REMAP-CAP. This was a great opportunity for me to learn more about these and other projects; to extend my knowledge of whats it like in the world of ICU research so I can take that back to the software and improve Spinnaker for the people using it.

The winner along with two of our favourites

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Introducing our new Project Manager

Meet our new Project Manager, Bryn Gilbertson. He has been working as a tester for us, testing on the PLUS Trial, and earlier this month accepted the role of Project Manager.

The role had been mapped out and loaded on our website ready to advertise as soon as we received confirmation of our next project. I knew our next project would tip us into securing an extra person to join our team. That project turned out to be the TTM2 and TAME Trials combined (more about that later).

Bryn adapted quickly to our way of working, our customer focus and the matrix of software we use. He has a neuroscience degree; the TTM2 & TAME Trials are looking at neurological outcomes after people have experienced a cardiac arrest and Bryn has been enjoying reading the protocols for both these trials while he gets up to speed on the project.

Read more about Bryn »

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

See you in Queenstown 23rd-25th August

Spiral is going to the ANZICS-CTG Winter Research Forum in Queenstown. The forum provides an informal opportunity for investigators to gain early advice and feedback on research proposals, to explore issues relevant to study design and conduct in ANZ ICUs and to foster a collaborative approach to study development within the CTG.

We are very pleased and excited to support the ANZICS-CTG community and to attend the forum where we expect to learn more about the trials undertaken by the CTG.

Five of the trials listed on the program are, or will be, using our software; these are TTM2, TAME, TARGET, PLUS and REMAP-CAP. This presents a great opportunity for us to learn more about these and other projects, to gain further insights into the world of ICU research and catch up with everyone that we work with.

Look out for the competition - we will be giving away an iPad for the most relevant photo on Twitter. Details to follow later.

Forum website »

Friday, July 14, 2017

TASI Trial launched this week

This week we launched another study – the TASI Study.

This is a small, low budget pilot trial that will test the potential overall benefit of the TightRope versus syndesmotic screw fixation for ankle injuries. You can read more about it on the Spinnaker website »

The trial has been running for over 12 months using the classic envelope system for randomisation. Patients were previously randomised into this multi-centre trial by telephoning a central coordinator. This placed a significant burden on the coordinator to always be available by mobile phone. In one easily implemented package our randomisation module has removed all that difficulty and put randomising patients in the hands of the local registrars.

With only 160 patients in the pilot there was not the budget for our full Spinnaker package. Our stand alone Randomisation Module is useful and surprisingly affordable package for pilot studies like the TASI Trial.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Your database on steroids

In the space of a week our sys ops have upgraded our clinical trial server in Sydney (Wombat) and added another server to cope with the growth in Spiral and the popularity of our Spinnaker Software.

The server upgrade means Spinnaker just got a whole lot quicker and access to your database is faster. We doubled the random access memory (RAM) on Wombat and added another processor. Monitoring of the server should show some significant gains in speed but already we can see a huge difference in the response time … and you will to.

The new server (Platypus) is also in Sydney but at another location to give us more flexibility about where we place your database. Platypus has the PLUS Trial on it, ready to enrol 8,800 patients in what must be one of the biggest ICU trials in Australasia.

Platypus is part of a long term plan to provide a smarter service and a more agile response. Under consideration is how we respond to server overloads, how quickly and smoothly can we move a single study instance of Spinnaker from one server to another and maintain 100% data integrity. Another consideration is alternative options for key functions, like randomisation and unblinding, during unavoidable downtime.

At Spiral we are all committed to providing a fast, agile response from the database and from our support team to you.
Hope you enjoy the ride with Spinnaker, on your faster database.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Recent visit to Wellington ICU

Recently I visited Wellington ICU where I sat down with their research team to hear from the people using our software every day.

It was an arranged, informal visit where I talked with them about how they use Spinnaker (our clinical trial software). I discovered what they liked, and didn't like, how they structure their workflow during the day and how Spinnaker might help with that. This was great feedback for me, to hear from the people using our software every day, to better understand how Spinnaker is used so we can build these insights into the next version of the software. Its all about making peoples lives easier.

The meeting was arranged by the study trial manager who attended the meeting with me and also found benefit from the discussion.

The meeting was a great opportunity for us all to ask questions, for me to focus on removing some of their hassles. The team asked for some changes which we were able to easily implement such as extra columns on reports - things we had not considered, which were easy to implement and immediately improved workflow for the research coordinators. The remaining insights and changes will be implemented in upcoming releases of Spinnaker.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Last week our team got together at an old lodge in Petone

At Spiral, the team that bring you Spinnaker, we all work remotely. Since we don’t get to see each other very often we have meet-ups roughly twice a year. When you don’t have face to face time with your colleagues every day, seeing each other is special and fun.

Last week our team got together at an old lodge in Petone for one of our regular meet-ups. We’ve had some great meet-ups over the years and engaged in some interesting activities. Each meet-up is a little different and this recent one was all about working together, talking, getting to know the new faces … plus food and coffee of course.

The whole team is at the meet-up and customer support continues through the time we are together. This means that in the middle of a discussion, maybe on how we will scale the server, if a customer support request comes in the discussion goes on hold while someone resolves that. The rest of us have plenty of other things to work on or maybe its time for a cup of tea at that point.

Many of the housekeeping type discussions, like how we are managing our support requests with Zendesk, work better with us all together where we have input from the whole team. At this meet-up there was also a lot of discussion about how we are growing and our direction for the next few months is clearly charted.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Winner of ANZICS NZ 2017 Twitter Competition

I was delighted to attend and sponsor the gala dinner at the ANZICS NZ 2017 Regional Meeting last week. It was great to catch up with the people that we know and to see so many ICU staff from across NZ along with a few special guests from Australia. The meeting was organised by Wellington Hospital ICU, in particular Ben Barry and Karyn Hathaway.
ICU nurses know how to have a good time and let their hair down when they are away from the demanding, stressful environment they work in!
In addition to sponsoring the dinner we offered a prize for posting a photo on Twitter with the hashtags #anzicsnz2017 and #spinnakersoftware. We received over 60 entries for the competition which was judged by an amateur photographer. There were two honourable mentions, Paul Young @DogICUma and Julie Burgess @kiwiburgess. The winner,  Deb Chalmers @ViridescentFrog, posted several images. Thank you to everyone who posted in the competition, there were some creative, interesting and humorous images posted from animals to sunsets … and  a few coffee‏ photos 😮
This is the first year that we have sponsored the dinner and it was lots of fun.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Introducing the PLUS Study

The George Institute of Global Health, Sydney, is our newest client and the coordinating centre for the PLUS Study.  PLUS kicked off in February and will begin taking enrolments in July.

Another fluid resuscitation study for us, the PLUS Study is a multi-centre, blinded, RCT.

PLUS tests the hypothesis that:
"in a heterogeneous population of critically ill adults, random assignment to Plasma-Lyte 148® for intravascular volume resuscitation and crystalloid fluid therapy in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) results in different 90-day all-cause mortality when compared with random assignment to 0.9% sodium chloride (saline) for the same treatment."
Of note:
  • with 8,800 patients this will be our biggest study
  • the study uses our inventory module to track all treatment from shipment to disposal
  • the study will initially run in Australia and New Zealand with other countries coming on board later
Next Tuesday I am off to Sydney to meet with the project manager and chief investigator for a sanity check which will ensure the project is going in the right direction. In the meeting we will take a strategic look at the project, discuss the more complex issues in the project and and check-in on our assumptions. I always enjoy these get togethers and once we are underway I find it important to make sure we are all walking along the same path with the project.

It’s always good to see people face to face and I regularly pop across the Tasman to meet with the project admins or join in a team meeting, even if just for an hour, although sometimes I can spend six hours with a project manager, nutting out detail. Mostly I can get across the ditch, and back, in a day but I am always happy to stay longer and use the opportunity to catch up with some of our other trials that are underway.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Working smarter with online software

Spiral is a distributed company ...we are the ones that bring you Spinnaker! Distributed means our team work from homes and offices across New Zealand. Its a great way to work, it enables us to be focused, work smartly and avoid earthquake issues!

We rely heavily on great communication and technology and I thought you might be interested in some of the software tools we use:

  • Skype. For video and voice calls with customers and internally. We use the screen sharing function on Skype a lot
  • Slack. For team chat and water-cooler type conversations.  Some of our other apps are  integrated with Slack so that we get messages when stuff is happening on other channels
  • Bugherd. For reporting bugs and issues with Spinnaker. Some customers will recognise this one because you are using it
  • dapulse. Gives us a way to visualise all our projects and deliver working, robust software in a timely manner
  • Inspectlet. Records peoples behaviour using Spinnaker which we translate into improvements to our software that make your experience of it better or quicker
  • Highrise. CRM that helps me stay organised

Im currently evaluating Zendesk but thats a story for another day.

My desk - a distributed office environment can look like this.