How technology can evolve clinical trails

The pharma industry was notably slower in forming collaborations with technology companies compared to other industries. But in recent years, with the likes of Amazon and Google introducing their own healthcare initiatives while working alongside some pharma giants, it would appear the industry is finally on the tech turn.

One sector where new technologies have been truly embraced has been within clinical trials.

The reason for this? According to BioPharmaDive, only 10% of new drugs that complete the first phase of a clinical trial make it to market, and by Phase III patient participate drops by over 30%. Many see a digital transformation as a means to help improve these outcomes.

One company aiming to be at the forefront of technology innovation is Novartis, who launched their clinical trials digital nerve centre in 2018. Based at their Basel campus, this centre allows scientists to monitor all their 500 ongoing, global clinical trials simultaneously from one space – with the overall aim of improving the end results of their studies.

The technology behind this brain centre is based around a simple traffic light warning system working alongside predictive algorithms, allowing the company to quickly and easily spot and deal with any problems or delays at any of their ongoing clinical trials.

Badhri Srinivasan, Head of Global Development Operations told PME: “It changes the way we conduct our business and how [our teams] interact, because suddenly access to information is instant.”

The introduction of electronic health records and cloud-based data has also made it easier than ever to get people to the right clinical trials.

Predictive clinical software allows CROs, sponsors and physicians to understand who can participate in trials and when. This, ultimately, allows research staff to screen potential candidates better and faster, resulting in more accurate matches of participants for trials.

Wearable devices have also had a massive impact on how clinical trials are carried out. ClinicalTrials.gov, the global database of clinical trials, lists approximately 300 trials currently underway in which wearable devices are mentioned in the description.

These technological devices are beneficial to clinical trials for a variety of reasons, including:

  • the ability to allow people to participate from the comfort of their own homes
  • the potential for a larger sample size
  • the probability of more accurate results if the devices are worn constantly