How a partner ecosystem can make decentralized clinical trials mainstream

Through a series of blogs, we are taking a deep dive into the E suite of Accenture’s Life Sciences ecosystem – examining how the collective power of a harmonized partner community is creating opportunities for biopharma to adopt a more productive, collaborative and innovative R&D model.

In this blog, we focus on how an ecosystem can support the delivery of treatments to patients, faster through decentralized clinical trials.

Although there are no upsides to a global pandemic, the crisis has shone a spotlight on the life sciences industry—and a series of impressive medical milestones. From producing the fastest vaccine in history to adapting testing and treatments as the disease has evolved, life sciences professionals have proven that powerful technologies and human ingenuity can make all the difference to patient outcomes.

But while scientific experts have been tackling this large-scale life-threatening event, some standard clinical trial processes stalled. As biopharma begins to ramp up clinical development plans again, how can trials proceed in innovative as well as swift, effective ways? As we have seen through the pandemic, biopharma companies are already in innovation mode and embracing the use of digital clinical trial methodologies. Our recent research revealed digital adoption took major strides during COVID-19.

Explore our research: Accelerating momentum. Digital innovation in clinical trials report.

Ease of access to clinical trials is a challenge. The expectation that sick patients must travel long distances to participate in clinical trials in person has been reset by the accelerated adoption of digital technologies and telemedicine because of the pandemic. Widening the net through a broad ecosystem of partnerships can help life sciences companies make strides in adopting such practices.

By fostering and growing existing and new connections within the life sciences community, organizations have greater access to the technologies that can improve progress. In short, scaling up decentralized clinical trials (DCT) offers improvements in terms of patient retention and the efficient management of resources, better data quality and reduced cost, and broader patient access across geographies and therapeutic areas.

Better patient experiences and faster results

In the same research referenced above, biopharma and biotech senior executives’ respondents cited top benefits of digital clinical trial activities as:

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Improved patient recruitment process

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Improved patient retention on the trial

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Increase in speed of drug development

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Percentages represent number of total respondents who selected item.

Develop ecosystem partnerships to drive scale solutions: Working with a solid ecosystem enables flexibility, scalability and supports effective management, driving the best outcomes for both the organization and patients throughout the drug development process. When pharmaceutical organizations can partner for strategy and consulting support, drawing on the experience of the vendor for technology infrastructure, new AI, and Machine Learning tools know-how, they can swiftly deploy the activities needed to move to ‘first patient in’ stage of a DCT.

At other times, pharmaceutical companies might need to draw on the niche technical capabilities provided by partners. The openness of an ecosystem eases collaboration from all angles, welcoming both new and incumbent providers into the ecosystem. It is imperative that organizations are dynamic and agile in both instances, as challenges often arise that require swift and efficient resolutions; both instances where Accenture Life Sciences excels.

Invest in clinical trial innovation: The clinical research pipeline has increased at a rapid speed in recent times but there is still a need to get medicines to patients faster. Accenture has been working with our ecosystem partners to overcome challenges around clinical trial access and operational efficiencies. Together, we help pharmaceutical organizations to realize the value of digital transformation and increase patient engagement and retention through the implementation of DCTs. Using partner technology, patients can take part in clinical trials anywhere, anytime to increase and improve the time to treatment through process and research and development efficiencies.

From concept to execution: As we have discovered, there are benefits to be found in collaborating to draw on the expertise needed, when you need it. Here are some suggestions if you’re looking to improve and broaden your clinical trials approach:

  1. Be ready for change: Change is a necessary part of growth and innovation. To achieve desired outcomes, your organization needs to be ready to make those shifts.
  2. Plan to scale: Truly scaling DCT requires leadership buy-in, investment in resources, and willingness to take on risks to drive innovation. Start small and have a plan to continue the momentum to scale.
  3. Capitalize on capabilities: Digitalization demands key technology and implementation capabilities to realize execution success. Organizational design, skilling, and resourcing must be invested in to make new capabilities stick.

Decentralized trials enable patient-centricity—which is the goal of every life science enterprise.

Alongside meeting demand and driving competitive advantage, having these kinds of rewards on the table makes the case for joining forces to decentralize patient trials. By all of us working together in the life sciences industry, we can make a difference in patients’ lives.

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Louis Kauffman

Senior Manager – R&D, Life Sciences

Kevin Nikitczuk

INTIENT Network Lead – Life Sciences

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