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What is a Gap Analysis?

This article describes what a gap analysis is in the context of managing your quality system when standards and regulations are updated.

Compliance Assessment Gap Analysis Picture 1024x683 What is a Gap Analysis?
Compliance Assessment/Gap Analysis

What is a Gap Analysis? An introductory look.

Well, that depends on the context. The dictionary definition is “A technique that businesses use to determine what steps need to be taken in order to move from its current state to its desired, future state. Also called need-gap analysis, needs analysis, and needs assessment.” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/gap-analysis.html). 

For the most part, this is correct, but we need to tweak it just a little bit to fit better into our regulatory affairs niche, specifically medical device manufacturers. A Gap Analysis for financial investment or an advertising firm will be very different than one for a medical device distributor. It might even be better served to be called a Compliance Assessment/Gap Analysis, but I am sure someone else has thought of that long before me.

For our purposes, the Gap Analysis is a formal comparative review of an internal process or procedure against a standard, good practice, law, regulation, etc. This blog article will be an introductory look into that process.

What are the two BIG goals of a Gap Analysis?

It sounds like a simple exercise, but the Gap Analysis or GA for short can have two very different but complementary functions. Rather than simply hunting for areas of non-compliance, the first goal is to find and demonstrate areas of compliance. 

The second more obvious goal is to find the gaps between the process and the regulatory requirements they are being compared against. 

Why is demonstrating compliance important?

Because this is a formal documented review, a Gap Analysis provides documentation in a traceable manner of meeting the requirements that have been laid out. That traceability is important because it allows anyone to read the report, see the requirement, and locate the area of the procedure that demonstrates conformity with that requirement. 

The report itself is an objective tool, not something that is meant to be a witch hunt. The Gap Analysis will compare document contents. If you want to verify that the entire process is fully compliant, you will need to dig deeper and observe if the activities laid out within the procedure are being performed per the procedure instructions. It is possible to draft procedures that are compliant with text requirements but non-compliant in the manner that the actions are being performed and documented.

What about gaps?

The gaps, or areas of non-compliance highlight opportunities for improvement, if there are any. A Gap Assessment may not find any gaps and present a report that clearly and neatly outlines and explains how each regulatory requirement is being met. 

If there are any gaps identified, that does not mean that there is cause for concern. This should be viewed instead as an opportunity for improvement. Standards and procedures change over time, and, naturally, procedures and processes will have to change with them.

The very act of the Gap Analysis shows that there is a documented effort towards continual improvement as long as the gaps are addressed. 

Addressing the Gaps

The report is ideally the first and last step, and you have a wonderful piece of paper to show that someone checked, and all of the required areas are being met. However, this is not always the case. When there are gaps, they must be filled.

Addressing a gap should happen in a traceable manner, one that shows it was identified, acknowledged, and then how it was fixed. Something that might be addressed through a CAPA process, but that is a topic for a different time. 

In Closing

The Compliance Assessment/Gap Analysis is a singular tool used in the overall maintenance of a quality system. Its actions and performance are similar to a simplified type of audit, but the Gap Analysis itself is not going to replace your regularly scheduled audit activities. However, it will help you monitor and keep your fingers on the overall pulse of your quality system. This is also especially helpful in situations where standards and regulations are updated, and your quality system needs to be evaluated and updated accordingly.

For more in-depth education in specialized areas of the assessment, look into our training on Technical File Auditing for MDR compliance against Regulation (EU) 2017/745 at the link below.

Technical File Auditing for MDR Compliance

Posted in: Quality Management System

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A Gap Analysis Tool for Updating Your Medical Device Reporting Procedure

new 803 A Gap Analysis Tool for Updating Your Medical Device Reporting ProcedureThis blog shows you where to find the new FDA regulation for medical device reporting (http://bit.ly/udpated-21CFR803) and the associated guidance document (http://bit.ly/Part803-Guidance). There is also an explanation of how to perform a gap analysis to compare your procedure for medical device reporting against the new 21 CFR 803 (http://bit.ly/Old-21CFR803).

On January 22, 2014, Medical Device Academy posted a blog about how to create your own FDA medical device regulatory updates: http://bit.ly/4Ways-to-Follow-CDRH. That post identified a number of sources on the FDA website where you can locate information about new and revised FDA regulatory requirements. One suggestion was to register for receiving the RSS feeds from the following page: http://bit.ly/CDRH-news-updates. This page is where the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH – http://bit.ly/FDA-CDRH) posts news and updates.

If you registered for the RSS feed from CDRH, then you received an update on February 13, 2014, announcing the new Part 803 regulation for medical device reporting. This is NOT a cause for alarm. The fundamental change is simple:

Medical device manufacturers will no longer be allowed to submit FDA Form 3500A in paper form. It will need to be submitted electronically through the Electronic Submissions Gateway (ESG) (http://bit.ly/ESG-FDA).

ESG Sign-up

This is just another small step for the FDA to move toward digital records, and to integrate with electronic medical records from healthcare providers. The FDA even created a presentation explaining the process for electronic Medical Device Reporting (eMDR). This 8 minute and 45-second presentation are available on the CDRH Learning page: http://bit.ly/CDRH-Learn. Slide 5 of the FDA’s presentation identifies the six steps for obtaining an account for an ESG:

  1. Get a test account with the ESG
  2. Send a letter to authenticate your digital identity (http://bit.ly/Non-repudiation-Letter)
  3. Get a digital certificate
  4. Contact CDRH (eMDR@fda.hhs.gov)
  5. Test sending an MDR to CDRH
  6. CDRH approves production account with the ESG

I have been recommending that my clients switch from submission of the paper FDA Form 3500A to eMDR since 2010 when this training became available. Now, you have 18 months to switch over to eMDR before the August 14, 2015 deadline for implementation. Alternatively, you can also outsource your eMDR reporting to a  service provider that already has an ESG (http://bit.ly/outsourcing-complaints).

Comparison of Current & New Regulations

The first step in understanding the specific changes to the regulation is to compare the old and new versions. The new Part 803 regulation for MDR was released as a PDF document, and therefore it does not lend itself to a direct comparison with the previous version of the regulation. Therefore, Medical Device Academy downloaded the new regulation (http://bit.ly/udpated-21CFR803), and copied and pasted each section into a Word document. We also did this for the current version (http://bit.ly/Old-21CFR803). Then, we compared the two Word documents electronically. Finally, we wrote a gap analysis to summarize the differences between the two documents. If you would like to download this gap analysis, please visit the following webpage: http://bit.ly/21_cfr_803_gapanalysis.

Gap Analysis of Your Medical Device Reporting Procedure

After you download the gap analysis tool that Medical Device Academy created, then you need to perform your gap analysis of your current MDR procedure against the changes in Part 803. You should create a table with one column identifying the section of the regulations, a second column identifying the section(s) of your current MDR procedure that meets the requirements, and a third column to identify changes that need to be made. You might consider adding additional columns for delegating the responsibility of revising various sections of your procedure, and implementing other tasks listed below (e.g., obtaining an account for ESG).

Next Steps

  1. Download the gap analysis of the new and old versions of 21 CFR 803
  2. Review and update your MDR procedure to address the changes to 21 CFR 803 which are identified in the gap analysis
  3. Apply for an ESG WebTrader account for Low Volume/Single Reports
  4. Revise your training requirements for anyone responsible for MDRs:
    1. Complete all four applicable CDRH online training (http://bit.ly/CDRH-Learn)
    2. Pass a quiz demonstrating training effectiveness (http://bit.ly/TrainingExams)
    3. Review the draft procedure for potential errors or sections that are unclear
    4. Make any final revisions to the procedure based upon feedback from trainees
    5. Implement your revised procedure

If you need help completing the above steps, please contact Medical Device Academy by emailing Rob Packard, or by visiting the webpage for Medical Device Academy’s Complaint Handling and Vigilance group (http://bit.ly/chvg_mda).

Posted in: Complaint Handling

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