WebCollab tutorials

WebCollab for medical, clinical and research project management

Chicago MBCCOP - WebCollab for project management in medical field - 01Written by Tomas Mackevicius

On this page we will discuss how to use free web-based open source project management software WebCollab in medical field. Some people are surprised that it is possible to use project management system to track patients and clinical events, but with several rules and tips it is very feasible. In many cases it is used for medical, clinical or research follow-up tracking. Other uses include research paper development, grant and report writing, etc.

First we will focus on hands-on usage tips for WebCollab users (most likely clinical or research staff) with the focus on how to create, manage, clone projects so it would be easy to adapt to various clinical follow-up situations.

Second part of this tutorial page is dedicated to the IT staff and webmasters. This section will focus on technical tips how to make WebCollab more user friendly.

Using WebCollab

How to migrate your clinical follow-up schedule: a step by step guide

  1. Assess current situation
  2. Pick one protocol
  3. Create your first protocol (project)
  4. Enter next 3-5 events for all patients on that protocol
  5. Clone the task (patient schedule)
  6. Complete patient follow-up plan migration for all remaining active protocols
  7. Caution: Do not forget about HIPAA!

1. Assess current situation

First we will do a quick assessment of current situation. Write down protocols that have patients on active follow-up. Our goal is to capture current situation and move forward. There is no need to spend time for the patients who finished follow-up or actions that are already completed.

Your list might look like this:

  • CCCWFU 97609 - 7 pts.
  • CALGB 80702 - 14 pts.
  • ECOG E-2108 - 23 pts.
  • ...

2. Pick one protocol

You might start with an "easy" protocol that doesn't have a lot of patients and have simple treatment and follow-up procedure. It will help you to start using WebCollab and to gradually gain experience and feel of it.

3. Create your first protocol (project)

Now we will create a project for the protocol which will be a container for the patients randomized for that protocol. In our case patient will be represented by a task and all actions related to that patient by the sub-tasks.

Chicago MBCCOP - WebCollab for project management in medical field - 02 - Create Main Project
Creating a protocol project
Note: you can see that we set the status for this project to "No deadline set". That's because it is just a container to add protocol patients, it doesn't have a due date. Usergroup is set to "Clinical", so all CRAs could see the project. "Anyone in the usergroup can edit" is set to ON, so in case you would be away, other CRAs could take care of this protocol/patient.

Next we will add protocol patient (task) and treatment or follow-up actions (sub-tasks). It will serve as a base for the template which later can be used to easily add new patients.

4. Enter next 3-5 events for all patients on that protocol

Each patient's follow-up project can be very extensive and for that reason (especially for new WebCollab users) it may look overwhelming and may be considered to be a big waste of time. That's why it is a good idea to start small and then add details to the plan when user becomes accustomed to the system and starts to realize all those benefits that WebCollab gives in return.

First we will create a follow-up plan for the RTOG 0436 protocol patient, which later can serve as a template for new patients.

Assuming that WebCollab will be used by many team members, we want to establish project naming guidelines, so it would be easy to find trials and patients. Our proposed schema for this example is:

Protocol Name - Patient Protocol ID# - Patient Initials - Protocol Arm

This naming schema gives us enough information to recognize patient, protocol and protocol arm:

RTOG 0436 - 111 - FL - Arm 1

If we are creating a template, to distinguish it from a real patient we can name it like this:

RTOG 0436 - 11111 - XX - Arm X

Chicago MBCCOP - WebCollab for project management in medical field - 02 - Create Task
Template task for RTOG 0436 Arm 1 patient (initials FL and study number 111)
Note the deadline date. Because it is a template patient, we selected an "easy" date so we can calculate deadlines for tasks and subtasks accordingly. Later when you will clone the project, you can enter real due date and all dates of task and sub-tasks will be adjusted in relation to the deadline automatically. Usergroup is set to "Clinical" so all CRAs could see the task. "Anyone in the usergroup can edit" is set to ON, so in case you would be away, other CRAs could take care of this protocol/patient.

After patient task is created, we will enter follow-up schedule. Our proposed way of doing it requires follow-up schedule to be divided into several logical parts. We will create a task for each part e.g.:

  • Baseline
  • Treatment
  • Follow-up

You may expand the primary task list depending on your needs:

  • Baseline
  • Treatment
  • End of Treatment
  • 6-8 Weeks Post Treatment
  • Follow-up

Just to have deadlines set for these major steps already gives you a better view of what's going on with the patient.

If you need more detail oriented follow up, you can expand this schema by creating subtasks for each parent task - see example below.

Note: simpler approach would be to add additional information under the description of the parent task, but in that case you cannot assign deadlines for those additional "tasks" and you cannot check them "Completed" after finishing them. That information would serve you only as a reminder what should be done, assuming everything will be completed on the same day.
Chicago MBCCOP - WebCollab for project management in medical field - 03 - Using comments for additional tasks
Using comments for additional tasks

Example of an extended follow-up routine:

  • Baseline
    • Preliminary Dosimetry Information
    • Demographic Form (A5)
    • FACT (FA)
    • ...
  • Treatment
    • Cycle 1
    • Cycle 2
    • Cycle 3
    • ...
  • End of Treatment
    • CBC, CMP, Magnesium
    • Final Dosimetry Information
    • Radiotherapy Form (T1)
    • ...
  • 6-8 Weeks Post Treatment
    • CT Chest/Abdomen
    • Endoscopy
    • Post-Treatment Response Form Report (F2)
    • ...
  • Follow-up
    • 4 Months Post Registration
    • 8 Months Post Registration
    • 12 Months Post Registration
    • ...
Important note: some studies do not have very clear schedule. For example it may be not clear how many cycles of treatment patient will receive - schedule may change in relation to patient's performance status, etc. Also some tasks may change the deadline very often - e.g. patient missed chemo cycle. Change of the deadlines may be caused by protocol amendments too. These situations in many cases would result in re-calculation and re-entry of all subsequent deadlines. That would create unnecessary work overhead and we don't have time for this, right? :)

In this scenario it makes sense to have a very simple task structure or expand structure "as you go". In this example you would start only with the first few tasks and subtasks and would add new ones "as you go". To have a sense what's coming up, I would recommend to enter at least 3 tasks in advance. This would let you have a better prediction for your work schedule.

Cloning of the tasks is not so effective in this case, because most likely your template would cover only first steps of patient' treatment.

  • Baseline
    • Preliminary Dosimetry Information
    • Demographic Form (A5)
    • FACT (FA)
  • Treatment
    • Cycle 1
    • Cycle 2
    • Cycle 3

5. Clone the task (patient schedule)

Now that we have a simple patient follow-up plan, we can clone it and use it as a base for new patient.

To clone follow-up plan, first we will have to click on it. Once inside our desired task, on the left menu we will see a menu item: [Task options] - Clone task.

After filling in the new task name and assigning new deadline, our task will be saved on the Home screen.

Please remember to follow the naming schema:

Protocol Name - Patient Protocol ID# - Patient Initials - Protocol Arm

Example:

RTOG 0436 - 111 - FL - Arm 1

Now we will go to home screen, to find our task. Click on it and once inside, hit [Edit]. On Edit screen select new parent project - our Protocol RTOG 0436.

6. Complete patient follow-up plan migration for all remaining active protocols

Having good grasp of WebCollab system, you should be able to transfer follow-up plans of all remaining protocols and patients. From this point data should be updated and added on a regular basis, so you and your colleagues could rely on the system.

7. Caution: Do not forget about HIPAA!

The fact that you need to login in order to use WebCollab, doesn't make it HIPAA compliant. If WebCollab is not running on closed network or is not hosted at HIPAA compliant web hosting company, you should assume that HIPAA requirements were not met and you cannot enter to WebCollab any information that could be used to identify patient.

Our example (RTOG 0436 - 111 - FL - Arm 1) shows only patient initials and study ID, which do not provide enough information to identify an individual patient, so it is in agreement with HIPAA rules.

Same rules apply to all information entered to WebCollab: task names, descriptions, comments, etc.

WebCollab tips for administrators

How to adjust the date picker field, to display more years than it is available by default

If you want to set the start date of a projects in the past, you might want to increase date range of the date picker. Also if you run a long term projects that might end in 2030, then you have a problem entering tasks, because max. date that you can pick is current year + 10. Fortunately it is not so hard to fix it ;)

You will need to edit 2 files:

calendar/calendar_date.php
includes/time.php

In both of them find the lines:

//set upper and lower limits or //year in time.php
$min_year = date('Y', TIME_NOW - date('Z') + TZ*60*60 ) - 5;
$max_year = date('Y', TIME_NOW - date('Z') + TZ*60*60 ) + 10;

and replace the last value with 20 or some other number of years that you need.

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