Use ‘Pain Points’ to Define and Align New Tech Initiatives in Clinical Research

Rhonda Henry, VP of Site Collaborations and Patient Centricity, PPD

Rhonda Henry, VP of Site Collaborations and Patient Centricity, PPD

For those sweating it out in a gym or hoofing it on the track, there’s the adage “No pain, no gain.” It’s not much different when it comes to embracing change in clinical trials.

It’s tough to be innovative — particularly when it comes to technology – if you are too risk-averse, says Rhonda Henry, a former nurse, and currently vice president of site collaborations and patient centricity at PPD. She spoke at a roundtable hosted by Veeva Solutions earlier this week in Philadelphia.

Transparency and strategic collaboration are two key tools to realize innovative goals, she says. Easy to say, not so easy to do, she acknowledges.

It can be helpful to start with “pain points” in operations, she says. That helps everyone understand the challenges and come to quicker agreement on goals. She likes to use technology assessment and adoption as one example. It’s an area of operations where those so-called pain points are something of a moving target.

“There are a lot of pain points, and there are companies popping up with technologies and services to support those, or to help address those pain points, but then you have a variety of technologies that you have to integrate into your business, it creates a different pain point,” she says. “You’re dealing with different data platforms, different ways to aggregate data, [and] then when you do, how do you use that data to actually do what you do more effectively? It creates more pain points.”

Successful adoption begins with clarity on all sides, she stresses. “We need to be open and transparent in our expectations,” she says. To get the discussion off on the right foot, she says to focus on three key questions:

  • What is it we’re trying to achieve?
  • What is it that each party brings to the table?
  • How can we enable them to be more effective in the way they deliver?

“We need to align the resources and the technologies and the solutions that we collectively want to use in our collaboration and also be very clear that if we want to innovate, some of these solutions may not have proven data to show they’ll work,” she says. That’s the catch-22 of innovation, of course. “You have to be able to assess your risk tolerance and whether or not you’re willing to try something new in an effort to really transform how we work together.”

Author: Michael Causey