Data visualization and the business of clinical research: How new approaches and enhanced tools could save sponsors millions
Every new year offers industry leaders the chance to collaborate and engage on the trends that are shaping the future of our industry. Increasingly, these trends revolve around the continued use of technology, and how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to transform the way we capture, analyze, and interpret information in the clinical environment.
Future trends include the use of data visualization to translate the thousands of data points gathered from connected devices, patient scans, lab tests, web-based portals, and other sources, into easy-to-understand visualizations. The resulting multi-dimensional graphs, plots, and charts allow investigators and researchers to instantly visualize trends in clinical research and to identify outliers in order to make faster and more informed data-driven decisions. As use and acceptance of aggregated data expands, perhaps the number of trials in a clinical development program or the number of subjects in an individual clinical trial can be reduced.
Map your trial budget
The use of data visualization in clinical research is still evolving and interest in these tools is rapidly growing. Over the past few years, several industry vendors, including our partners Medidata and IBM Clinical Development, have launched data visualization applications that can help sponsors map patient populations, identify promising trial subjects, track and visualize key risk and key performance indicators as part of their risk based monitoring (RBM) strategy and electronic patient reported outcome (ePRO) results.
However, these tools offer equally exciting benefits on the business side of the clinical research process. Just as investigators use these tools to identify subject recruiting opportunities, trial managers are also able to quickly identify which trial sites are meeting clinical and business requirements in attempts to maximize return on investment and minimize risk. In addition, business leaders can use data to develop and manage budgets across the globe and make predictions about meeting future business goals.
Financial forecasting and better predictability of trials
Imagine being able to see at a glance how much of a trial’s research budget has been spent to date, which trial sites are delivering the best results per site investment, the rolling predictability percentage of achieving timelines, and what percentage of resources are being dedicated to human capital, infrastructure, logistics, and marketing. Data visualization tools can deliver these insights instantly by taking existing financial and performance data and transforming them into easily understandable metrics presented as charts, plots, and graphs with dynamic categorization by region, phase, and indication.
Application of the visualization tools can offer valuable insights into the financial progress of an individual trial. They can also be leveraged as a vital portfolio management tool, allowing decision-makers to see where resources are being spent, and to compare current investments against timelines and predicted future revenue or outcomes. The application of data visualization adds greater clarity and certainty to the investment decision-making process. Over time, the accumulation of data can provide a visual history, showcasing trends over time that can be used to make more accurate predictions about future clinical investment outcomes.
The next phase of AI
The ability to collate, cut and analyze large amounts of data with new technologies and new approaches has been extremely valuable over the past few years for the clinical research industry. The newest and progressively exciting advancement in the use of data visualizations is to apply AI and machine learning to the data visualizations created in the clinical research space. As an example, algorithms designed across aggregated data for early detection of safety signals may be more informative than originally thought. We have already started discussions to pilot these advancements into visualization expansions of the clinical data across clinical trials and platforms. Moreover, we are actively working to develop similar applications for business tracking with some of our larger clients, and we anticipate making these tools part of our standard offering in the near future.
In short, all of these tools allow pharma to make faster and smarter investment choices, and to be more predictive in decision making, ultimately cutting time and cost from the drug development lifecycle, and bringing new treatments to market faster. That’s a benefit proposition that everyone can get behind!
Senior Vice President, Biometrics
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Stacey Arrambide, M.S., Senior Vice President, FSP and Managed Staffing, has over 21 years of global statistical and data management experience across a broad range of therapeutic areas. Stacey oversees strategic growth and operational delivery of FSP and managed staffing services for Advanced Clinical. He has held numerous leadership positions of increasing responsibility within biometrics for other CROs and led statistics, statistical and clinical programming, and clinical data management departments and projects globally. Stacey is well-versed in clinical trial technologies having led technology transfer initiatives over 3 different EDC systems as well as architecting an internally developed IRT.