Clinical studies constitute the most critical stage of a drug’s development. They are costly with unpredictable timelines, and their outcomes influence the short and long-term future of pharma companies. Trials attract the interest of regulators, investors and even patient advocacy groups. As a result, the pressure on pharmaceutical companies to succeed is not only financial but also reputational.
So, when they’re so critical to success, why aren’t clinical trials working as they should?
One healthcare giant, recognized the escalating costs for running clinical trials and the clear need to improve its processes. Trials were not dynamic in nature, largely paper based, and costing the organization millions of pounds.
Much like the rest of the industry, for this firm, typically only ten percent of trials were completed on time, and mistakes due to the use of manual processes were impacting the quality of results.
The extraordinary penetration of both mobile technology and the Internet of Things meant that the right conditions were in place for digital innovation in clinical trials – but the team knew that change wouldn’t be easy. Efforts to date had largely focused on digital replacement of existing standards – screens in place of paper – partly due to regulatory and data privacy issues, and partly due to entrenched processes which were difficult to navigate.
The visionary team needed to challenge the status quo and embark on radical transformation – and needed outside help to guide them through the process. And that’s where Verhaert Innovation Academy came in.
The Verhaert Innovation Academy’s approach
Verhaert Innovation Academy was already a proven partner for this organization – working on several projects for its innovation arm. This team recognized Verhaert Innovation Academy’s talented mentors, extensive experience and expert ability to work closely with a variety of personalities within the organization, deeming it a true strategic partner, with a more rigorous and comprehensive approach than its competitors.
Together, Verhaert Innovation Academy and the in-house team zoomed in on local Study Coordinators and Principal Investigators as influential early adopters, who shared their biggest pain points around recruiting patients and scheduling, as well as compliance and accuracy issues. They knew that by addressing these concerns, and influencing stakeholders, they would be able to ensure their solutions would be more warmly embraced.
What made Verhaert Innovation Academy’s approach to innovation different to other consultancies was that ideas, assumptions and plans were tested and evaluated all the way through the innovation process – with potential users, customers and stakeholders – so that great ideas could be more rapidly developed and problems and bugs found sooner. This increases the likelihood of success and saves both time and money.
One of the concepts, a mobile app, was quickly identified as having the potential to help clinical trial teams be much more nimble and agile, and this too was put to the test. The team managed to get 58 per cent of their clinical trial patients into the app to jointly test proposed features within two week sprint cycles, and from almost 40 features, they managed to develop eight sticky features that ensured high engagement with the app, ultimately achieving a 92 Net Promoter Score.
For this team the results of Verhaert Innovation Academy’s efforts have been transformational. The use of the mobile platform alone promises to save the organization 140 million pounds annually by saving time and increasing the quality of clinical trial outcomes.
The team was bold enough to challenge a long-standing and traditional process, but it was Verhaert Innovation Academy’s pragmatic approach, collecting evidence every step of the way, which helped facilitate the change. As the team likes to say: “If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything”.