Twins Research Australia

Enabling researchers to better synthesise data for vital health research

A close up of a researcher using a microscope
Twins Research Australia

The Challenge

Twins Research Australia (TRA) brings twins and researchers together for vital health research that benefits everyone. Twins are special to research as they help tease apart the effects of nature (genetics) and nurture (environment) on our health. These studies have led to better diagnosis, treatment and prevention of a wide range of health conditions.

TRA’s database was the best part of 14 years old, built on Microsoft Access and in need of a modern web front end to meet the day to day needs of the organisation and its members. In order to achieve efficient data collection and evaluation, it is imperative researchers have the most reliant technological tools available to better synthesise and group information.

Fortunately, TRA was built in two components, an MS SQL database and an MS Access front end. Kiandra’s approach was to build a new front end using the existing back end as well as augment some of the reporting options. Kiandra worked collaboratively with Melbourne Informatics, the University of Melbourne’s internal specialist team to ensure alignment with the informatics platforms from the back end.

The Solution

Twins' solution displayed on a white iMac screen

Technology plays a key role in collecting, tracking, sharing and even evaluating data for researchers, thus supporting many new discoveries in health research. Technology also streamlines recruitment of twin volunteers for studies thereby assisting researchers to fast tracking their studies and to keep down costs. For these reasons, it is essential for registries like TRA to be equipped with industry-leading capabilities.

TRA used a Microsoft Access Forms solution to manage and report on member and study data in their SQL database, as well as an existing member registration form on their website.

Kiandra proposed to replace these by creating a responsive web application to allow for a seamless member registration and data management process. Kiandra also planned for this web application to have locked down administration functionality while allowing restricted access to researchers.

The plan was for the new web application to utilise the existing database and continue to be managed by the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health (MSPGH) Informatics team. Kiandra used AngularJS and ASP.NET Web API to build the new web application.

The Outcome

TRA’s database is now completely modernised from the inside out.

The result is a new member management system that also defines and manages communications, studies and stakeholders as they relate to the members within the Registry. This will enable researchers to better synthesise research data, monitor trends, identify issues, outcomes and manage resources.

It has also streamlined the communication network to better prompt the distribution of educational resources, study information and identify opportunities to engage with members for research purposes.  The new system not only records this activity, it is sophisticated enough to identify where twins would fit into future, current or other studies based on member details and eligibility.

The new database now has the following capabilities:

  • Member Management — new registration, updates to details, exchange of study progress reports and transmission of details of eligible participants, creates groupings, study involvement (including approaches, reminders, responses, comments and links to the study)
  • Member Communications — records data and search functions, enables capture of all forms of communication to members/stakeholders, sends study invitations, and selects potential twin pair participants based on specific requirements
  • Member Query — extracts information and query data associated with members
  • Study/Questionnaire Data Management — records and tracks studies and contact with researchers, and consolidates questionnaire responses for further study
  • Reporting — checks data accuracy, provides  communication progress reports on studies, enables filtering function to find any potential members for study opportunities
  • Additionally, development code and knowledge have been shared with TRA and MSPGH Informatics to support contingency planning and future database enhancements.
TRA’s database is now completely modernised from the inside out
Tessa Cutler, Research Coordinator and Liaison, Twins Research Australia
Tessa Cutler
Research Coordinator and Liaison, Twins Research Australia
Working with Kiandra has been a pleasure right from the beginning. Their willingness and ability to understand our unique and complex needs has added to the success of our new database. The team at Kiandra have continuously provided well thought out solutions to meet our requirements.
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