We put some questions to him in advance of the summit.
What are the current top priorities for the clinical research industry?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation have become priority areas. However, the technology remains relatively unproven because the outcomes of using AI are still to be determined. Most companies are in the early stages and need to establish a foundation of clean clinical data that can power AI and automation. Without clean and accurate study data, there won’t be valuable insights that can improve decision-making in trials.
Clinical studies are also on the upswing, and to gain approvals faster, biopharmas and biotechs are looking for modern ways to be more efficient and cost-effective. Many are investing in reducing friction across clinical stakeholders to simplify collaboration. Companies that advance systems and processes for a more streamlined, connected way of working can significantly improve the speed of trials.
Where do you see clinical trials headed over the next year?
We see sponsors focusing on simplifying how clinical data flows across stakeholders. For instance, there is a lot of focus on improving visibility and helping reduce the burden on clinical research sites.
Many sites have either become one trial-and-done or have had to reduce staff, creating increased competition across sponsors for the highest-performing sites and principal investigators. The sponsors that do this right will invest in building stronger relationships and streamlining their technology infrastructure to make execution easier for sites.
There’s been an explosion of digital tools intended to give patients more options for participating and engaging in clinical trials. While this is helpful for study participants, it has increased the number of technology applications sites need to learn and use. The shift also emphasized where a trial is conducted instead of how study data and information are collected and shared.
To address these challenges, more sponsors will invest in site engagement strategies and technology that simplify site execution. There will also be increased investment in facilitating clinical data flow from a patient to the site to the contract research organization (CRO) or sponsor. The changes will help lessen transactional relationships with sites and streamline study management and execution.
What does attending SCOPE offer? What does it do for the industry?
I go every year because the level and mix of sponsor, CRO, and technology provider executives that attend reflect the multistakeholder approach that can create change and improvement to benefit patients. Having this type of brain trust together in one place is exciting to connect, think about what’s next, and make good things happen.
The SCOPE team also structures the agenda around the things that matter, including some of the trends we’ve just touched on around automation and the site-sponsor relationship. SCOPE continues to evolve the agenda to keep up with industry changes, so it is a great event to learn and hear best practices that can help move the needle for life sciences.
What are the big themes you expect to be buzzing at SCOPE?
The primary focus will be driving innovation across the bread and butter of trials—clinical operations. The study managers, CRAs, and everyone executing clinical trials will discuss improving processes and increasing speed while simplifying the clinical ecosystem. This also includes best practices and strategies to improve site engagement and the sponsor-site relationship.
Sites use an average of ten applications during a study. Multiply that number across studies and the sponsors they work with, and managing the links and credentials across all these applications can lay a heavy burden on staff. Imagine sponsors can make it simple for sites by providing one place to access all the technology needed to execute a study, and investigators can log in with a few clicks. The savings in time and effort can give staff more time to help and treat patients. And that is what this is all about.