Medable's Colin Weller addresses challenges and future of clinical trials

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Medable patient engagement Decentralized trials SCOPE 2024 Drug development

A conversation between Colin Weller, VP and GM of the evidence platform at Medable and Liza Laws, senior editor, at Outsourcing Pharma, was held at this year’s SCOPE 2024 in Orlando.

The purpose of the discussion was to delve a bit deeper into the challenges and advancements in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly regarding the use of digital technologies in clinical trials.

Colin's background, industry frustrations, the impact on patients, and the future direction of clinical trials were just some of the subjects tackled.

When asked about his background and motivation, Weller provided insights into his extensive career in the drug development industry, highlighting his roles at Pfizer, Amgen, and AstraZeneca.

He emphasized his focus on innovation and transforming traditional processes to improve efficiency and speed in drug development.

“I've always had a mixture of my career of delivering evidence delivering the data for the submissions, but also always having a part of my time on innovation or transformation or new ways of working.”

Challenges in drug development

Weller discussed the primary challenge of speed in drug development and the underlying reasons contributing to the slow pace, such as the lack of a unified system or platform across clinical trials. He stressed the importance of streamlining processes to accelerate evidence generation and decision-making.

“There are so many reasons why we're so slow. I think one of the main drivers that I see is that we in healthcare and clinical trials as a whole have no single system single platform.

“I’d like to introduce the concept of a one-day study startup as part of Medable's vision to reduce the time required to initiate clinical trials. I like to highlight the progress made in this area, leveraging standardization, reusable modules, and AI-driven automation to speed up the process.

“We are very much focused on one-day study startups, to try and go from that 20-week window down to a single day.”

Patient experience and wearable technology

The conversation explored the integration of wearable devices into clinical trials to improve patient experience and data collection. Weller emphasizes the importance of minimizing the burden on patients and sites by adopting a consumer-grade approach and integrating devices seamlessly into the platform.

“We want to move to a place where seeing a patient for a clinical trial is virtually invisible. It should just be their routine care.”

Concerning data privacy and regulatory considerations, Weller acknowledges the significance of data privacy concerns, particularly in areas like dermatology studies where capturing sensitive information requires careful handling. He emphasizes the importance of aligning with FDA and EMA guidelines and leveraging technology advancements like data tokenization to address privacy challenges.

“We need to be cautious; I would say about that and make sure that what we're doing is agreed with the FDA and other regulators around the world before we do it.”

When pressed about future directions and collaboration, the conversation concludes with a discussion on the future trajectory of clinical trials, emphasizing the need for incremental steps towards incorporating advanced technologies like AI while maintaining a focus on improving patient outcomes and reducing site burden.

“It's really important to show the incremental steps and bring the industry with us as well ... we've actually got to show those incremental steps because taking a week, two weeks, three weeks off that process is what's meaningful to the pharma companies.”

In summary, the conversation reflects the industry's ongoing efforts to innovate and optimize clinical trial processes, with a strong emphasis on leveraging digital technologies to enhance efficiency, patient experience, and data quality while addressing regulatory and privacy concerns.

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