A “stressed” workforce and infrastructure are groaning under the increasing complexity and overall pressure in the clinical trial ecosystem, says Ryan Jones, CEO of Florence Healthcare. Technology alone isn’t the answer, but it is an inevitable part of the solution, he adds.
“It’s like air traffic controllers who 50 years ago had far fewer planes to monitor and did it with radio,” Jones says. Today, air traffic controllers leverage once unimaginable advancements in technology to handle many rote tasks, which “frees them to use their own skills and judgment for the tougher stuff,” he notes.
“Technology is not at the center of clinical trials yet, but it is moving in that direction,” Jones explains. He applauds recent initiatives by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) that were designed in part to further professionalize the clinical trial workforce. “ACRP has the right idea to encourage the workforce to integrate technology into its operations,” he says. “ACRP is the most forward-thinking trade association. Who else is going to do this?”
A new “state of the industry report” from Florence believes technology will impact clinical trials in five key ways over the next three years:
- Faster study timelines. “Real-time collaboration through technology will enable faster study timelines,” the report says.
- Reduced costs. Streamlined operations and workflows on integrated technology platforms will increase efficiency and decrease cost.
- More diverse participant populations. Remote technology will “enable the expansion” of trials to a wider geographical reach.
- Stronger regulatory compliance. Automated compliance tracking and security processes will ensure stronger compliance “across clinical trial operations,” according to the report.
- Safer clinical trials. Enabling remote monitoring of patients and more real-time data exchange with sponsors will result in safer clinical trials for participants.
There are a few caveats, however. For example, “successful adoption of technology at your research site requires an adequately prepared workforce,” the Florence report indicates. “The skills needed to manage clinical trial operations will be vastly different in three years.”
Among other recommendations, Florence advocates development of a change management plan, participation in industry associations, and ensuring vendors are “committed to your success.”
Author: Michael Causey