While it’s certainly true that the pharma industry thrives on innovation, it’s also fair to say that it can certainly be slow to change. Or at least, that was true until the beginning of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an event that illustrated how important digital transformation truly is.
This is especially true in the case of clinical trials, which have been moving in a decidedly digital direction for years. While the need and the desire for digitally-enabled, connected, and decentralized clinical trials have been ongoing, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a catalyst towards the acceleration of the production of said trials.
Regardless, this is one trend that is certainly worth paying attention to, especially as current events make it more urgent than ever for advancements in the industry to take hold. Indeed, pharmaceutical companies are transforming clinical and virtual trials in a wide range of different ways – all of which are certainly worth exploring.
Clinical Trials, Virtual Trials & Beyond: The Future of Pharma
One of the more recent and interesting digital transformations to progress in the pharmaceutical industry has to do with the concept of the virtual clinical trial itself. Essentially, a virtual clinical trial is a direct-to-patient trial that takes place without face-to-face interaction over a computer, smartphone, or other electronic devices.
As stated, this is a concept that has been explored for years but the current pandemic has acted as something of a catalyst to what was already in progress. With the right infrastructure, data from clinical trials can not only be collected remotely but can be transmitted instantly to those who are overseeing the research that is being conducted.
Although, this doesn’t remove the need for the occasional in-person visit with a healthcare professional in the community or at a study site. As for the importance of further analysis, it does allow for a significant amount of work to be done without the scale that was formerly required to do so. It also helps medical professionals meet the patient where they are, as opposed to making them come to a specific location, which in and of itself can prove invaluable when it comes to the quality of data that can be collected.
Several associated technologies are being used to help make this a reality, with artificial intelligence being the main proponent among them. No pharmaceutical company wants to run an unsuccessful clinical trial. Doing so can waste not only a massive amount of time but also potentially billions of dollars as well.
With quality data, artificial intelligence can be used to reasonably estimate whether a trial will fail or succeed, thus helping pharma companies make sure they’re moving in the right direction from the onset of the process.
Of course, none of this is to say that the new era of clinical trials and virtual trials isn’t without its fair share of challenges. Oftentimes, organizations deal with a lack of data integration – something that prevents important information from freely moving across an enterprise.
Likewise, adverse event reporting is an omnipresent concern. Unclear regulatory acceptance is also an issue and is indeed one of the reasons why innovation is often slow across the industry.
Additionally, the failure of a trial can have significant ramifications for the pharmaceutical company as a whole. Almost immediately, investors can begin to lose confidence in the organization’s direction.
For publicly-traded organizations, they can even almost instantly take a hit to their stock prices. Because of that, manufacturers should always A) attempt to identify flaws in their studies as early as possible and B) limit losses proactively as much as they can. This new evolution of clinical and virtual trials goes a long way towards helping to avoid those obstacles.
All of this underlines the importance of having the right partner to collaborate with, as they can help mitigate as many of these risks as possible to arrive at the desired outcome most efficiently.
In the end, technologies and trends like those outlined above are indeed disrupting the pharma industry, but “disruption” is only a negative term if allowed to be.
What disruption is indicative of is evolution – a necessary change that helps transition an entire industry from where it currently is to where it needs to be. Concepts like virtual trials, artificial intelligence, and more can go a long way towards helping to accomplish precisely that, which in and of itself is the most important benefit of all.
To find out more about how pharmaceutical companies are taking the lead in digital transformation in clinical and virtual trials or to speak about a definitive and direct experience, contact DMI today.