How digital technology is innovating in clinical trials


Avanade and Microsoft are helping healthcare providers maximize the value of their data, using digital technologies like AI and the cloud.

Avanade and Microsoft Collaborate to Use Digital Technology to Innovate and Improve Personalized Clinical Trials for Patients and Achieve Equity and Diversity in the Patient Group

For healthcare providers, managing the masses of sensitive patient data at their disposal can be complex if not managed properly. Leveraging data, thoughtfully leveraging applied intelligence (AI), and connecting disparate systems is essential to effectively deliver a service that meets individual patient needs in concert with the broader success of a trial. clinical.

Avanade and Microsoft are using their longstanding partnership to help healthcare organizations maximize the value of data in improving patient care. With the need to balance personalization of care and cost containment, the capabilities provided by the respective organizations seek to fuel healthcare innovation now and in the future. Together, they are expanding their innovation to tackle the complexity of clinical trials.

Design and conduct of tests

Setting up a digital clinical trial requires a major and interdepartmental effort. First, a design application must be submitted to a regulatory body such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and approved before any trials can take place. Once a specific, unmet patient need is identified, safety and ethical requirements must be met, before a pre-audit and hospital site inspections are performed.

This planning and design process can often take as long as the trial itself, which can take several years and is often a very manual process. Indeed, no step can be rushed if a trial is to be both compliant and beneficial to patients and providers.

“One important thing that stands out is that fundamentally this process is dependent on the success of finding the right patients and engaging them in this plan,” said Jeremy Kolpak, head of digital experiences products and services at Avanade.

“It starts hypothetically in the design stages, and then the reality of the trial starts to surface as you engage with these patients, considering how you ensure the design is executed as you envisioned it. It is always the human element that will disrupt these trials.

Jeremy Kolpak is the Head of Digital Experiences Products and Services at Avanade.

For patients, continued support and engagement throughout the trial is vital, but for Claire Bonaci, senior director of US health and life sciences at Microsoft, that can be difficult to sustain.

“Patients may drop out because they’re not engaged,” Bonaci explained. “Many vendors don’t meet their attendance projections or timelines, and run into understaffing. This brings you back to square one.

“It can take up to a decade for trials to be fully enrolled and completed, during which time patients still have this all-important unmet need.”

Claire Bonaci is Senior Director of US Health and Life Sciences at Microsoft.

Digital technologies have proven critical in determining the viability of trial designs through early in silico experimentation, as well as the application of these trials and patient recruitment projections and adjustments.

Data-driven decisions

Microsoft and Avanade power an end-to-end journey from inception to conclusion and beyond. Data capabilities enable the close and precise monitoring needed at every phase for healthcare providers to determine what is working and what is not. For clinical trials, decisions made early and often are critical.

“We always want to set up the framework to ask the right questions and find the answer immediately,” Kolpak said.

“We need to understand the different cohorts involved and make a decisive decision. The task for us is to provide a single window for these cohorts to make these decisions, before tracking and acting on these decisions based on data approved by the trial leader and the team.

At Microsoft, research dedicated to healthcare is underway, which explores the pitfalls faced by customers and how these can be overcome. A stark example manifests itself in Project New Hope – the use of natural language processing (NLP) to better understand clinical trial protocols and patient health records.

“Here, we bring together all the data and prioritize the most relevant trials for patients and providers,” Bonaci explained.

“If a vendor is more interested in clinical trials and has patients to associate with, they can do that research themselves using technology, rather than a staff member manually sifting through tons of labs and data. of EHR.

“This project really lowers that barrier of qualifying a patient for a clinical trial.”

The importance of diversity and equity

“Ensuring that you get a broad population represented in your patient base, and achieving that equity, is a key challenge to overcome,” Kolpak said.

“Provider engagement has been disrupted by Covid as care has become more decentralized. drug would come on the market.The challenge is to solve that.

Ensuring a truly diverse patient population not only encompasses demographics such as race and gender, but also socio-economic factors such as where the patient lives, as well as health elements such as medical history. It was a requirement that Bonaci said was often overlooked until recently.

“You have to consider things like whether or not the patient has a smartphone or other device, and whether they’re able to get to the lab. These aspects determine whether the patient can be enrolled in the trial,” Bonaci said.

A future of cloud-based collaboration

Going forward, cloud-based technology will continue to play a vital role in maintaining strong data management and compliance, while increasing efficiency and reducing costs. Hybrid virtual trials in particular, which will offer patients the choice of participating in trials at home or in a traditional medical setting, will benefit from cloud-based technology, as will how hybrid working in general enterprises is supported. through a cloud infrastructure.

“Using virtual visits will allow patients who cannot attend trials in person, such as those living in rural areas with lack of access, to participate,” Bonaci said.

“The cloud will also be crucial in building new partnerships with other health services. Institutions such as community clinics and hospitals are prevalent in rural areas, as is retail health usage.

“In the United States, there’s always a Walgreens or CVS within three miles that have labs that can house hybrid trials. Many technologies can be implemented and collaborated across the industry. »

Often, patient data is held in various silos, with healthcare systems naturally protecting their data. But greater interoperability between healthcare organizations will lead to more accurate and timely information about individual patients, allowing trial designers to determine which patients to approach and which to stay in touch with at the rate that those individuals need.

“The technology is often relatively simple, but it’s the humans that are complex,” Kolpak said. “These trials are not just about the patient experience, but also about the community that will benefit from their positive outcome.

“We can leverage technology and data intelligence to help make that connection. This is a common pattern we see not only with clinical trials, but with any software solution that interacts with the people.

“I think we’re going to see leaps and bounds of innovation enabled by the cloud and through an innovative technology ecosystem, which will foster better collaboration between trial designers, startups and the pharmaceutical industry, which will accelerate the identification of this strong, diverse and equitable patient population in future trials.

This article was written as part of an awareness campaign with Avanade. If you would like to learn more, please find our latest e-book, made with Avanade to explore the future of digital technologies in healthcare, here.


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