Abhay Jha and Venkat Sethuraman co-wrote this blog post with Qin Ye.
More people than ever before attended the ninth-annual Summit for Clinical Ops Executives (SCOPE)—a testament to the growing importance of innovation within clinical development. Attendees from across life sciences gathered in Orlando Feb. 12-15 to discuss clinical development challenges and solutions, and to network with peers and partners.
As one of these industry partners, ZS was well represented on the attendee list and within the presenter ranks, and my colleagues and I learned a great deal from both roles. Here are three observations we made on the ground:
1. This event was not only bigger but also more collaborative than past summits. While more than 1,800 people attended this event, they weren’t all clinical ops executives. There were more technology leaders than we’ve seen at past summits. We also saw healthier participation from the sponsor community, and there were more vendors than we can remember seeing before.
We saw analytics leaders focused on R&D, which was a very welcome sight. Clinical strategy, R&D leaders and medical affairs attendees also were present. We believe that this variety is a sign of increased collaboration. We hope that this spirit of collaboration continues as these attendees go back to their respective companies and strive to break down silos.
2. Everything is changing, but not everyone has changed. The topics discussed at the event underscored how dramatically the pharmaceutical space is changing. Many topics were cutting-edge, including the explosion of telemedicine, digital wearables and site-less trials. It was also recognized that collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagement will be necessary to move this field forward. A natural extension of this is the explosion of healthcare data and how the industry is leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence. For example, our presentations were about how leveraging AI and machine learning can impact R&D clinical data review, and how to successfully implement a real-world data capability. We also heard an interesting presentation about blockchain, which has become such a hot topic in pharma.
Our observation is that many of these presentations were still at a conceptual level, forcing the industry to think differently. There were relatively few presentations that demonstrated how these innovations can actually be implemented. Our assumption is that while interest in these topics is high, not a lot of companies have shifted from conceptualizing to actualizing, so we find ourselves in a time of transition, and the event reflected that.
3. Pharma companies that have innovated successfully are more willing to share. While examples of innovative programs were harder to come by than we expected, there were some impactful presentations from pharma companies that have in the past tended more toward secrecy. These were helpful because presenters were willing to share their accomplishments. Such forward-thinking companies are making it their mission to improve the industry.
We saw new vendors starting to make some impact in the area of clinical recruitment, patient engagement and real-world data, and a few pharma companies are starting to explore those areas as well. We heard from AstraZeneca, who presented with us, and GlaxoSmithKline and Janssen shared very enlightening presentations, too. Leaders from GSK shared their experience with the PARADE study and the utilization of digital sensors. Janssen gave an insightful presentation on patient centricity, sharing the company journey of transformation into a more patient-centric one. This open sharing is incredibly useful. If we’re going to see the whole industry move beyond the conceptual and apply these concepts to real, thriving programs, we’ll need more pioneers willing to share their success stories.
BLOG POST: Three Emerging Themes From SCOPE 2017