Two additional ways the contract research organization (CRO) landscape has changed over the past five years are through shifting towards patient-centricity and adopting artificial intelligence. More details, including the impact that the changes have had on people conducting clinical research, can be found below.
Way #1: A Shift Towards Patient-Centricity
- Biopharmaceutical companies in general have shifted towards patient-centric practices in the existing healthcare landscape. Many are now incorporating the patient's voice in their drug development strategy.
- As a result, clinical research organizations (CROs) are responding to and supporting this shift and this is impacting clinical development activities.
- The voice of the patient is becoming the new norm and patient-centricity is being achieved by engaging with patients in a meaningful way throughout the design and execution of clinical trials.
- Patient centricity is grounded in an engagement approach, understanding "what the patient wants and expects before, during, and after the trial.”
- CROs are developing strong relationships with patients and leveraging their voices as "differentiators and competitive advantage for recruitment."
- All clinical trial-focused conferences are including patient-centricity in their agendas. Patient-centricity is now being featured prominently in industry discussions and conferences.
- Key stakeholders in the CRO landscape now agree that the "era of the empowered patient is here to stay." Patients are no longer interested in helping pharma sell more drugs. Instead, they want to help them make better drugs.
- An increased focus on patient-centricity is supported by current government agencies, the healthcare industry, and patient advocacy groups.
- With patient-centricity, clinical researchers are designing the right studies and engaging patients early as partners in the clinical trial process.
Way #2: Adoption of Artificial Intelligence
- With the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, CROs are now tapping into these technologies to strengthen their position in the R&D market.
- In their report, Deep Pharma Intelligence revealed that leading CROs are continuously adopting artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning (ML), natural language processing, and deep learning in their research through the building of in-house platforms and partnering with AI-focused startups and AI- vendors.
- Since most CROs participate in clinical-stage projects, most AI-leveraging projects are focused on dealing with use cases like clinical trial management, patient recruitment, patient stratification, and result modeling. The major areas of application are preclinical development, early drug discovery, and pharmacovigilance.
- IQVIA is developing AI capabilities for supporting its customers with commercial activities and clinical trials. The CRO also launched the Avacare Clinical Research Network™ which lets sites match patients with trials more effectively. The platform is AI-powered.
- Charles River Laboratories has partnered with Atomwise which is a leading AI tech firm. This will allow it to gain "access to the AtomNet™ platform developed by Atomwise." Atomwise is an AI-powered neural network that is capable of predicting the binding of small molecules to protein targets, especially suiting to target protein-protein interactions (PPI)."
- Pre-clinical CROs are actively leveraging AI when conducting health research because it lessens the uncertainty in pre-clinical experiments and can be used to gather data and obtain useful insights.
- For clinical researchers and trials, the use of AI has had numerous impacts which include:
- Target identification and drug repurposing.
- ML-based predictive analytics for patient recruitment and retention.
- Supporting data management teams as they detect inaccurate data.
- Monitoring the generation of data and identifying issues and inconsistencies as the trials continue.
- ML technologies can be used to identify changes, issues, or anomalies for patients.