It is somewhat of an accepted reality that the clinical research industry is paradoxically slow in adopting innovative technologies. While we have argued in our previous post this is not necessarily the case, there is still heavy room for improvement in an industry worth about $160BN USD a year.
Deloitte recently took on the issue by interviewing industry executives to understand their drives and motivations. The summary, a report titled “Digital R&D: Transforming the future of clinical development” identifies how the industry perceives the adoption of innovation. The results are extremely interesting. The consulting firm found out that, as expected, technologies have different potentials according to the phase of implementation. Therefore, although innovation can be applied to study design, the largest and most meaningful impacts can be reached in the conduct phase and CROs are an integral stakeholder to achieve this.
Experts agree the industry is going through a "due diligence" phase in which the ROI of several technologies is being assessed. In this context, the size of a CRO is of increasing importance in defining which and when technologies will be deployed. While larger companies have leverage and scale to drive implementation and ensure widespread adoption, their internal structures limit the capacity to assimilate innovation into the company’s DNA. Furthermore, a risk-averse culture in sponsors (rooted in high development costs) limits their own support to innovation in the execution of studies.
Paradoxically, smaller organizations, with flatter structures are better prepared to engage with innovation for several reasons. Firstly, because they see innovation and customization as a point of difference versus larger CROs. Secondly, because they have organizational structures that are more adaptable to change. Thirdly, because often smaller and niche CROs work with sponsors that are more open to innovation for several reasons ranging from cost awareness, speed, and highly specified patient populations.
Nonetheless, CROs large and small are hastening the pace of adoption and several clear examples lie ahead, for example, eConsent, eSource, eScan or risk-based monitoring are being adopted as a standard in the industry. In their report, Deloitte concluded that the opportunities for innovation are boundless and, while certainly there are risks involved, the benefits far outweigh them. In this regard, Ratan Tarnesh, director of Clinical Outsourcing at Otsuka Pharmaceutical, nicely summarized the issue: "As an industry, we need to be open to new ideas (…) We often don’t try to take operational risks as we are afraid of failure (…) if we don’t change, in 10 years some kid in Silicon Valley will change it for us."
KCR is a Contract Research Organization (CRO) providing clinical development solutions for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. The company supports clients with full-service capabilities across three main services: Trial Execution (TE), Functional Service Provision (FS) and Late Phase (LP) in a broad range of therapeutic areas. KCR operates across four main regions: North America (NA), Western Europe (WE), Central Europe (CE) and Eastern Europe (EE) with hubs located in Boston, US, Berlin, Germany, Warsaw, Poland and Kiev, Ukraine respectively. The company’s geographical set up suits perfectly to deliver optimized trial execution strategies for life-changing therapies.
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