How research firm Icon is using analytics and wearables to enhance clinical trials

    Contract analysis agency Icon is making ready to ramp up using analytics and wearable applied sciences to extend the attraction of medical trials as a care choice and to spice up effectivity of its operations.

    With a market cap of $7.17bn, Icon employs a 14,000-strong workforce offering outsourced growth providers to world pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical system firms, across the growth, administration and evaluation of applications supporting medical growth course of together with affected person recruitment and trials.
    About 70,000 to 100,000 sufferers are at present participating in medical trials dealt with by Icon in practically 100 places world wide. According to chief data officer (CIO) Tom O’Leary, one among his core areas of focus for future growth is putting the affected person on the centre of drug growth, whereas making “patients realise and understand the opportunity that they have in clinical trials and the care options available to them”.
    According to the CIO, information that has been gathered over practically twenty years by Icon reveals that sufferers who do take part in medical trials and have entry to care delivered to their situation, carry out higher than those that don’t take part in medical trials.
    “There’s real benefit in terms of getting access to novel therapy or capabilities, getting a closer monitoring of conditions and the specifics that might relate to them from a genetic or genomic perspective, so [trial participants] can get a more targeted care than those patients that don’t have the opportunity to take part in clinical trials,” stated O’Leary.
    “We really want to leverage technology to make it easier for patients to participate in clinical trials,” he stated. “The more patients that we have the opportunity to inform about clinical trials as care options, the faster we can bring drugs and devices that are better than current therapies to patients and have them experiencing the benefits. That’s our biggest goal.”
    In addition to the way it recruits sufferers at this time, O’Leary added that Icon goes to do extra social listening to determine the place it will probably get potential sufferers by way of on-line channels that aren’t at present used to a bigger extent.
    Virtualising medical trials
    O’Leary’s data-led technique additionally goals to spice up inside effectivity. According to the CIO that will imply making medical trials information extra accessible, decreasing processes for sufferers and websites the place trials happen whereas getting a larger quantity of knowledge about medicine or gadgets being examined as sufferers go about their day by day lives. The concept is to advance the tempo and scale back the price of drug and system growth.
    Within that strand of labor, a precedence is to additional virtualise the medical trial setting, benefiting from applied sciences that may enhance data gathering comparable to wearable gadgets worn by the affected person or put within the affected person’s house.
    By having the ability to acquire data on areas comparable to sleep, motion and exercise remotely, the corporate hopes to get entry to extra correct data whereas decreasing sufferers’ want for in-person clinician visits.
    “[Use of wearables] means we can gather more of that [patient’s] data and understand in real time what’s happening with our drug or device, whereas previously that information was captured either on paper or using electronic data capture tools to record information about the patient,” stated O’Leary.
    “With sensory and system expertise we are able to seize [data] in actual time, analyse it and feed it again to the affected person as effectively, to allow them to perceive how they’re progressing and the way they evaluate with different sufferers who may be additionally managing or coping with that illness or situation.
    “That enables us to interact with patients in a way that previously wasn’t possible, having information shared with them and advising them on what they can do to better manage the disease they may be dealing with,” he stated.
    A burgeoning enterprise
    By constructing affected person profiles and informing them about propensity to ailments and situations, in addition to what life selections they will make, Icon hopes to assist folks preserve more healthy for longer: “We all ultimately become patients, but [patients with access to health information] only become a patient at a much later slate in their lives,” stated O’Leary.
    Delivering information to sufferers about their well being is quick changing into a burgeoning enterprise, in keeping with the CIO, who believes that “everyone sees the opportunity of that” within the sector.
    “Telecom companies, for example, are looking into how they can create a different paradigm for the future in terms of how patients disease and indications are managed and treated and how the capabilities they offer can be a companion to patients and how they manage disease or conditions,” he stated.
    Advancing into extra subtle use of knowledge and different emergent tech follows a digital transformation technique that has been actively developed at Icon over the past 18 months.
    The firm is already reaping outcomes from the funding in tasks beneath the plan, comparable to improved communication and collaboration with the pharma, biotech and medical system firms it really works with by way of a digital platform encompassing video, chat and information sharing instruments equipped by Dimension Data.
    “We’ve transformed the way we run and organise things as simple as meetings: we do them far more now using video technology and a number of collaboration platforms: we invested quite significantly there,” stated O’Leary. 

    Desktop virtualisation to cowl the corporate’s world workforce with Citrix has been one other spotlight of the digital transformation.
    In addition, Icon additionally sought to convey lots of its core programs to the cloud, with the implementation of Salesforce and Workday programs along with a mixture of proprietary programs and off-the-shelf platforms equipped by giant suppliers like Oracle and numerous life sciences expertise suppliers.
    O’Leary stated the corporate is well-placed by way of the basics required to evolve its technique to develop analytics and proceed to digitise sufferers and platforms underpinning its medical trials exercise.
    “Everyone is working hard to improve drugs and devices, and to restore the quality of life of those patients that are there with more targeted therapies,” he stated. “The opportunity to leverage technologies that are able to do that is immense.”

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