Clinical Research Leaders Should Answer Fortunes’ Challenge to Innovate

In an August 2020 piece for Fortune Magazine, Mayo Clinic CEO Gianrico Farrugia challenged the healthcare industry leaders to “empower creative problem-solving among staff to develop innovative methods of doing business that truly meet the new needs of customers today.” Farrugia went on to say that healthcare innovation spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic should remain a touchstone even when this current situation is behind us. This type of innovative thinking has sparked throughout the clinical research trial marketplace; harnessing its power and continuing down a path of continuous improvement opens new revenue, sponsor, and patient opportunities for CRO’s, IIT’s, and clinical research sites.  

The clinical research industry has seen a vast change in the way trials must work to adjust to patient needs during the pandemic. Clinical trial sites have deployed innovation to mitigate social distance and geographic spread challenges. The top barrier for patients has always been distance and travel; the pandemic has exacerbated those concerns and extended them to staff and external auditors, making remote trial solutions a critical area for innovation. 

Decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) are fast becoming a price of entry for tomorrow’s trial RFPs and is one of the most dynamic ways to harness innovation and grow a clinical research business. Even as social distancing measures stay in flux throughout the remainder of the year, remote visits, CRF workflows, off-site audit capabilities, and remote patient monitoring are likely part of clinical research’s future state. Innovation will come as sites embrace the myriad of technologies that make remote trials possible including:

  • Video capabilities that are easy for both patients and site staff to use
  • Text, payment and video-enabled CTMS that ease communications with geographically dispersed patients 
  • eSource applications that reduce the time required to collect, process and share relevant data, mitigating potential downtime resulting from remote management and enabling sponsor-required remote monitoring access
  • Electronic consent solutions that ensure the accuracy and completeness of information, helping increase sponsor satisfaction and ensure audit preparedness
  • Digital regulatory management that ensures crucial information is accurate and available for staff, CRA, and FDA inspections

Necessity is the mother of invention – this has never been more true that the innovative work being done today in the face of a global pandemic. It is now on the industry and its partners to build upon the amazing work done in 2020 and continue reaching for clinical research trial breakthroughs that will help the global community. Tomorrow’s most successful research teams, leaders and sponsors should take this time to, as Dr.Farrugia states, “actively resist a return to the old way of doing things, maintain the improvements we’ve made, and continue to invest in research and strategic collaborations that will produce a health care system that serves everyone better.”

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