The cost to bring new drugs to market is growing at an unsustainable rate. In 2015, that price tag hit $2.6 billion, which is a shocking 34 percent increase over 2010 rates. This is a huge a problem that will only continue to get worse until the industry figures how to deliver smarter, faster and more efficient clinical trials. To do that, we have work collaboratively to generate new ideas for recruiting patients, generating evidence, and harnessing the power of technology to improve our research process. I can think of no better place to begin such collaborations than DIA’s 2016 Meeting, from June 25-30 in Philadelphia. This annual event is the ideal environment for industry stakeholders to share lessons learned and begin to implement solutions that will create a healthier world.

Many of the events, workshops and posters at this year’s event focus on three key areas for achieving a more effective and efficient trial environment.

1.  Smarter trials and the application of real-world evidence

On Monday afternoon, Quintiles is hosting a session on evidence optimization, and how the industry can utilize the abundant evidence available today to drive smarter clinical development and deliver more value to the market. In the session we will examine strategies for maximizing real-world and clinical evidence to shorten cycle times, and highlight innovative approaches that we’ve implemented integrate evidence alongside scientific expertise, technology and global delivery for more efficient trials.

Other events exploring this topic include:

Maximizing the Value of Your Product by Beginning with the End in Mind, a forum on Monday morning where experts from Merck, Covance, and Eli Lilly & Company will share insights into how companies can maximize the value of their asset through more effective regulatory strategies, and by incorporating value into the development strategy to improve their odds of success.

That same morning speakers from UCB Biosciences, University of California San Francisco, CDISC, and Medidata Solutions will host the EHR in Clinical Research: Heralding a New Era presentation, where they will discuss work completed by the CDISC E2C team mapping data from electronic health records (EHR) into electronic data capture (EDC) systems as eSource. The session also promises to profile case studies of companies making such transformations to support their clinical research sites. 

2.  Stakeholder engagement –  from regulators and payers to sites and patients

Another key topic covered at DIA is the importance of stakeholder engagement to gaining efficiencies throughout the drug development lifecycle. There will be several sessions dedicated to exploring how we as an industry can improve our stakeholder engagement efforts.

On Tuesday afternoon, my colleague Jeanne Hecht, senior vice president for Site & Patient Networks, is hosting an Innovation Theatre presentation on transforming patient recruitment through site and patient engagement, where she will discuss how to achieve better outcomes by operating with patients in mind from start to finish. In that session, Jeanne will examine the strategic benefits of involving patients in program and protocol design, and how raising awareness about the clinical trial process can transform the way patients engage with the research to impact study success.

I’m also excited about a workshop that will be hosted earlier that day by Tufts with DIA and Pfizer, on Measuring Return on Engagement. In the session, speakers will look at an Interim Report on the DIA-Tufts CSDD Metrics Study, and discuss the benefits of standard metrics to advance the practice of patient engagement in the medical product development and approval processes.

3.  Digital technology, and the move from pilot to platform.

The third key issue that is vital to improving clinical trial efficiency is taking advantage of new technologies. Advances in digital technology and access to new patient databases are making it possible for researchers to access more data faster than ever before -- but if we don’t update our analytics skills and research strategies, the deluge of data will be overwhelming and useless. Fortunately, there will be many opportunities to explore this topic at DIA, including:

The Digital Health Debate  on Monday will bring together representatives from sponsors, trial sites, and CROs (including John Reites, head of Digital Acceleration at Quintiles) to debate the merits of digital media for patient recruitment and retention. Panelists will discuss the challenges for utilizing digital channels to recruit patients and identify possible methods for effectively implementing digital campaigns for patient recruitment.

On Wednesday, experts from HL7, Accenture, Tufts and Semantical will explore a variety of digital trends in The Future of Clinical Research Data: 2020 and Beyond presentation. Themes they plan to cover include the need for data transparency, use of electronic health records, challenges with interoperability, and how wearable technologies will play a role in clinical research going forward.

These are just a few of the many exciting events that will take place at DIA this year. Regardless of which sessions you attend, I hope that everyone involved, from panelists to participants, come to this meeting with the goal of working together so that we can solve the big problem of how to accelerate drug development so we can give patients access to novel therapies sooner. The healthcare ecosystem is vast, but if we rally around this cause we can begin to implement solutions that will save patients’ lives.

Topics in this blog post: Biopharma, Clinical Trials, Collaboration, Evidence, Triple Aim