Digital health technologies such as remote monitoring and telemedicine attendance were certainly before the pandemic. Today, however, such tools are increasingly relied on by both clinical researchers and healthcare professionals – to the extent that they are likely to appear after COVID-19 appears in our rearview mirror.
In his recent report The future of digital health: innovative health projections for 2022Boston Digital Consulting (BCG) collects forecasts from a number of experts regarding trends that may affect the industry. Outsourcing-Pharma recently tested these experts to learn about the report and what it can reveal about the current state of digital health as well as the future.
OSP: Could you tell us a little bit about how digital health has evolved (including what that phrase means to life sciences professionals) in recent years?Taking care of
BCG: The last few years have seen a significant influx of capital into the digital health market, with investment doubling every year. This influx has not only accelerated the development of technology, but has also created an opportunity for more talent to enter the market, especially talent with experience in the sector who may not have been able to jump earlier. What used to be small startups are now companies that develop enterprise-class solutions.
In particular, how do pharmaceutical companies and their research partners use digital health solutions in drug development?
The three major categories, though not exhaustive, include the following:
- Detection of drugs based on AI / algorithmThese players often act as service providers to accelerate early research and even preclinical interventions. In some cases, companies with patented algorithms, labs, and data access have ambitions to be pharmaceutical companies themselves.
- Clintech for clinical trial operationsClinical IT is evolving rapidly to service evolution in clinical trials such as decentralized models. New technologies, such as remote monitoring, eCOA, eConsent, telemedicine and more, are being used to change the way patients interact with sites – and both interact with sponsors. These changes allow for faster recruitment of subjects, improved interaction during testing, new endpoints through remote data collection, new ideas through digital data, and faster test time overall.
- Data solutions that can be widely applied throughout the value chainIn recent years, medical data markets have increased through claims, EHR, labs and more. Direct access to provider systems allows better site selection and even patient identification, new analytics tools allow sponsors to engage self-care, and platform technologies such as data lakes for specific developers can open up new channels of understanding.
OSP: How has the increase in decentralized trials changed the way clinical research teams collect, analyze and disseminate data?Taking care of
BCG: Teams should plan ahead to include decentralized testing (DCT) in development programs. This planning goes beyond the protocol level, coming from the teams of clinical developers, and should be closely linked to clinical operations to ensure that the right partners and processes are established.
Unlike traditional trials, DCT often requires the involvement of multiple partners to complete a complete protocol. Because of this, sponsors often act as “general contractors” coordinating the work of their service and technology partners. Disparate systems also lead to data fragmentation, opening the door for other players to help aggregate and analyze the result. It is encouraging that there are many technologies and opportunities. Sponsors who want to work with these partners and try new approaches will find new opportunities.
OSP: Can you share some of the ways BCG has helped customers make better use of data (including electronic medical records) in their efforts to identify and develop drugs?Taking care of
BCG: Over the years, BCG has invested heavily in data science and digital product capabilities. The use of real data (RWD) is increasingly becoming the norm, not the exception, in our work from strategy to operations to software development. Examples of this include:
- Creating an analytical platform based on data from historical claims to help inform biostatistics
- Use your own customer data to run a site selection platform
- Support recruitment into clinical trials through coordination and execution of digital marketing
OSP: What advice would you give to clinical research professionals looking to streamline their operations with data?Taking care of
BSG: Bring the data to the point where it is both organized and integrated. Manage your usage options, drawing inspiration from what’s still there. Be ambitious, but don’t get lost in the vision to such an extent that it hinders progress. Take the first step instead.