Transforming Collaboration in Clinical Trials

“Effective collaboration is built on a foundation of trust, openness, and accountability – but inefficient processes and behaviors challenge the industry,” said Dawn Furey, vice president, head of portfolio operations at J&J Innovative Medicine during the clinical operations keynote address at Veeva’s R&D Summit last week.

Dawn was joined by Clare Grace, vice president of site and patient access at Syneos Health, and Dr. Jeff Kingsley, CEO, and founder of IACT Health, in a panel discussion on transforming trial execution through greater collaboration.

An increasingly complex clinical trial landscape is driving the industry to find ways that make running trials more efficient. While technology plays an important role, differing goals, processes, and cultures complicate efforts to improve collaboration.

“We succeed through sweat and brute force, rather than through good process and alignment,” said Dawn. “We need to change our behaviors and think about what our CROs need to be more effective, and how to make running trials simpler for sites.”

Clare Grace added that effective collaboration requires transparency and mutual commitment, but believes the industry is hampered by system, functional, and operational silos.

In her role as vice president, site and patient access at Syneos Heath, Clare develops and executes long-term strategies to drive stronger connections with high-performance sites and targeted patient populations. She noted that clinical research sites often shoulder the administrative burden of using multiple clinical applications provided by sponsors and CROs. These systems rarely work together, require duplicative data entry, and aren’t aligned to sites’ processes.

She explained, “there are so many technologies, and all I hear from sites is, ‘can we streamline technologies, please? Can we have one or two systems that do the job well rather than hundreds of different systems?’”

Fellow panelist, Dr. Jeff Kingsley, founder and CEO of IACT Health, knows this problem all too well. He says that the current model is not sustainable and that new, transformational approaches are needed.

“We need to ease the burden on investigator sites,” said Dr. Kingsley. “We have reached a breaking point where people, processes, and technology must innovate.”

He explains that while sponsors and CROs have made progress on aligning their processes and systems in support of improving trial performance, clinical research sites tend to get left out because they lack the systems necessary for engaging in those complex discussions.

“We are technically working together, but we don’t behave like we are on the same team,” said Dr. Kingsley. “Sites need to invest in infrastructure to drive delivery, quality, and efficiency.”

The panelists see significant opportunity to find a common way to bring together trial stakeholders, simplify information exchange, and improve collaboration across sponsors, CROs, and sites.

The industry is beginning to form collaborative partnerships that incorporate the perspectives of all key stakeholders – including those of patients – directly into the trial process.

Technology has also matured to the point where it can enable a more collaborative clinical trial environment by seamlessly connecting trial partners, systems, and processes throughout study execution.

The ability to share information easily and with greater transparency improves how stakeholders work together throughout the clinical trial process. Better collaboration engenders trust among partners working toward the same goals and outcomes – improving trial performance for the benefit of the patient.

To hear more about the steps the industry is taking to transform collaboration in clinical trials, listen to the clinical operations keynote address at Veeva’s R&D Summit.

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