The Hype at the Scope Summit

15 March 2016

The Scope Summit was held on February 23-25 at the Hyatt Regency in Miami and attracted a record 1200+ attendees. It brought together the leading senior-level industry representatives and provided a great platform for networking, in-depth discussions and insightful keynotes.

My focus was in the area of advancing clinical research with technology and innovation. One of the most interesting talks was by Craig Lipset, Head of Clinical Innovation at Pfizer, who applied the concept of Gartner’s Hype Cycle to clinical trial technologies.

A hype cycle for clinical research operations.jpg

The idea of the Hype Сycle is that all mature technologies go through five phases. Technology Trigger depicts an early stage where proof-of-concept stories trigger publicity, often with no usable, commercially viable product. Later, as some success stories attract media interest, the line rises to a Peak of Inflated Expectations. Publicity causes more widespread experimentation where technology often fails to deliver consistently or up to inflated expectations, hence the Trough of Disillusionment. At this point providers either improve the technology to satisfaction of early adopters or the technology fizzles out. If sufficient improvements have been made, more real use cases arise and applicability is proved, leading to the Slope of Enlightenment which slowly rises to reach the Plateau of Productivity, where mainstream adoption starts to take off.

By using Gartner Hype Cycle methodology, Lipset helps discern the hype from what’s commercially viable, emerging technologies from those of meaningful impact. He gives us a view of how clinical technology will evolve over time and an outlook on how to align companies’ risk appetite to the stage in the technology Hype Cycle, with most conservative companies adopting at the Plateau of Productivity stage.

Patient centricity was, once again, a major theme. With customer engagement being the overarching trend across all industries, it has finally reached the clinical trials space where patients are still referred to as subjects and are identified by numbers. Transforming patients from subject to participants in clinical research is essential for the clinical trial industry to remain relevant. Moreover, patient engagement offers disruptive potential to accelerate drug development cycle times, improve efficiency of clinical trials, patient recruitment and retention rates.  

Kenneth Gets, Chairman of CISCRP observed that patient engagement popularity in discussions if far greater than its adoption. He noted a slow progress in actual execution of patient engagement initiatives with 41% of companies and research centers piloting and executing in 2012 to only 45% in 2015. Barriers to adoption were not mutually exclusive and consisted of internal resistance (57%), lack of internal expertise and processes (40%) and lack of funding (33%). Gets focused on the need to go beyond talking about the concept to setting realistic expectations for patient centric initiatives, establishing and measuring ROI, and engaging and coordinating enterprise-wide support.

Another highlight of the Summit was the announcement of the 2016 Clinical Informatics Best Practices Awards winners.

Clinical Data Intelligence award went to the Neurological Clinical Research Institute @ Massachusetts General Hospital and Prize4Life for the Pooled Resource Open-access ALS Clinical Trials (PRO-ACT) platform,which is an open access database, containing the data from recent large ALS trials to drive innovation in ALS quantitative research. The project brings together two disciplines that had limited intersection before- research on the biology of ALS and informatics research.

Patient Data Management award went to Science 37 with LA BioMed, whereScience 37 technology powered the LA Biomed telemedicine substudy site for a PEMPHIX Trial. Science 37 accelerated the enrollment of patients by removing the geographic barriers to their participation and offering real-time access to the research team through NORA technology.

Study Startup and Design award was given to Clincierge for providing individual patient support services for a rare disease clinical trial, handling the logistics of travel, lodging, transportation and rapid reimbursement of patient out-of-pocket expenses.

All in all, Scope Summit was an insightful event. Will be going next year.

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