06Jun

The pharma industry sits on the forefront of scientific discovery. Pharma professionals do crucial work that can improve the lives of millions of people. Today, a good portion of that work relies on emerging digital technologies.

“Many clinical trials were impacted negatively by the pandemic because patients were either not comfortable traveling to appointments or clinical trial staff weren’t comfortable seeing patients in person.  As a result, we have seen more research and development into smart device application development,” explains Krista Zielinski, Executive Director of Green Key Pharma.

Here are three ways digital tech is paving the future of clinical trials in pharma.

1. Mobile technologies

The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) defines mobile technologies as mobile applications and other portable technologies that contain sensors to remotely capture outcomes data. 

“Mobile technology (smartphone applications, wearable devices, telehealth) offers an opportunity to enhance the efficiency and reach of clinical trials processes, including remote consenting, evaluation of interventions, and collection of outcome data,” says Lindsey Summers, Director of Pharmaceutical Consulting at Green Key.

In early 2020, the CTTI detailed several recommendations for dealing with data collection from mobile technologies. These include:

  • Designing technologies using evidence-based principles
  • Collecting the appropriate dataset for the purpose of the study
  • Optimizing data collection, including trial design as well as strategies for monitoring data to minimize technology-related causes of missing data
  • Developing processes for analysis of data captured through mobile technologies
  • Establishing common standards for acceptance of mobile technologies and data capture

As the need for these technologies continues to grow, pharma companies will seek to hire tech professionals to assist in data design, capture, and analysis.

2. Digital patient recruitment

Even before the pandemic, around 53% of patients learned about clinical trials online, according to a national clinical research poll conducted in 2013.

The events of the past year have shed even more light on the importance of digital methods for patient recruitment and retention.

“Placing digital patient outreach ads on search engines and social media can help sponsors and contract research organizations recruit patients who are active, engaged and already looking for treatment options,” writes Bruce Gould for PatientCentra.

As a result, pharma companies may branch out into the digital marketing space, particularly to enlist the expertise of digital content strategists and social media marketers.

3. Electronic health records

Patient recruitment is only the first stage of the conducting a clinical trial. For a trial to be successful, patients must successfully enroll and stay for its duration. 

Today, clinical researchers can prioritize patients’ convenience and minimize the potential for dropout with the help of electronic health records (EHRs). EHRs can improve enrollment and retention by streamlining the patient data collection process. 

EHRs are real-time records of a patient’s medical history, including diagnoses, medications, immunizations, and lab results. Because of the way EHR systems are built, they naturally automate the provider workflow, which is a common cause for delays in patient enrollment.

“The EHR is a preferred messaging channel by doctors,” write Kaitlyn Clark and Anika Patel for the Pharma Voice. “78% of providers prefer that pharmaceutical and healthcare companies send product updates to their office via EHR.”

Ready to bring your knowledge of digital tech to pharma?

With the adoption of digital tools and technologies, comes a need for new talent in the pharmaceutical industry. And where there is talent, there is Green Key Pharma.

Placing talented individuals is imperative to the success of research and development in the pharma industry. Our recruiters have a proven track record of client and candidate success, making us the best partner to help you develop in your career and grow your teams.

If you are a job seeker interested in working at the intersection of medicine and data, check out these job openings in pharma:

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Green Key
Jun 6, 2023

Dog Study Could Lead to Help For Humans with Sports Injuries

Osteoarthritis of the knee is a common condition in humans and in their canine companions. An estimated 20% of dogs older than a year and 12% of people between 25 and 74 will develop the condition.

The causes and mechanisms are not well understood, however age and weight are considered major risk factors.

Injuries also lead to developing the disease. In fact one of the most common of all sports injuries in humans as well as dogs – a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament — is the leading cause of post traumatic osteoarthritis.

The mystery is why many, but not all, dogs and people with ACL injuries develop post traumatic osteoarthritis, medically referred to as PTOA. Now, a study of dogs at Cornell University’s veterinary school, published this month in Scientific Reports, offers clues to the potential for developing PTOA.

Researchers led by Dr. Heidi Reesink, assistant professor in equine health at Cornell, found that changes in the production of lubricin, a joint lubricating protein, could be a precursor to developing joint disease.

Lubricin is critical to smooth joint functioning. “We know that if a person or animal doesn’t make that protein, they will develop devastating joint disease affecting all the major weight-bearing joints,” says Reesink.

The prevailing view among veterinarians and physicians is that lubricin production declines after injury, leading to the development of PTOA. “The dogma in this field has been that lubricin decreases in joint disease,” Reesink said.

But the study found that in canine patients with a knee ligament tear lubricin increased and it was correlated with the development of osteoarthritis.

“This indicates that the presence of increased lubricin might actually be a biomarker for predicting future osteoarthritis,” said Reesink. “We also saw increased lubricin in dogs months to years after they injured their ACLs, suggesting that lubricin might be an indicator of ongoing joint instability.”

Increased lubricin could serve as a tipoff to clinicians to intervene with early treatments to ward off or slow the development of osteoarthritis, not just in dogs, but in people, too.

Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

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