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Best ways to improve your CRO’s growth using cloud

Over the past few years, under pressure to cut costs, global Pharma companies are increasingly outsourcing their in-house R&D activities to Contract Research Organizations (CROs).

The clinical CRO market is defined as the combination of Phases 1 through 4 clinical activities, excluding discovery, preclinical, central laboratory, and post-approval/commercialization services. Within the $34 billion to $39 billion CRO market, the clinical CRO market analysis stated that it alone is valued at $25 billion as of 2017, with an expected CAGR growth rate of 7 percent until 2020.

According to a recent industry analysis by Credit Suisse, clinical outsourcing penetration has increased from 41 percent in 2015 to 45 percent in 2017. This is expected to reach around 50 percent by 2020.

The increasing business volume is forcing CROs to invest in new technologies – especially Cloud-based technologies – to smoothly run their operations while keeping costs under check. Besides cost savings, CROs are also helping their clients – pharma companies – to increase productivity and enable access to new capabilities.

A cloud platform, for example, can securely aggregate Electronic Health Record (HER) data, which would help identify where and how many patients match the inclusion/exclusion criteria requirements.

Cloud technology can also play a critical role in a clinical trial. A virtual placebo controlled trial, conducted by Science 37 included its cloud and e-consent module. Using its own investigator network, it screened more than 8,000 individuals and enrolled a total of 372 participants. While the trial participants used the e-consent platform to understand the “how” and “why” of trials, the cloud platform performed self-photography and video-based telemedicine visits among the patients, study staffs and investigators.

Several large Contract Research Organizations (CROs) are looking to acquire small-sized CROs to scale up their operations and offer diverse specialized regulatory services with high efficiency.

IT/BPOs cater to both technical and large FTE requirements and hence are preferred by the buyers for easy handling of data. Recent trends suggest that CROs are tying up with players offering cloud technologies and social media to gain access to real time data.

A couple of business deals vouch for the growing importance of cloud technologies in the CRO space. For example, Bioclinica gained access to most advanced cloud research image management and submission technologies after it bought MDDX Research & Informatics. The deal enabled Bioclinica to continue to be a leader in medical imaging technologies.

ICON entered into an agreement with Intel to use the company’s Pharma Analytics Platform for use in clinical trials. This platform is an edge-to-cloud artificial intelligence (AI) solution which will allow remote monitoring and capture of data from patients to measure symptoms and quantify the impact of therapies.

The cloud-based technologies have also caught the attention of Pharma majors. In 2016, Pfizer had chosen Oracle’s “InForm Cloud Service” and the “Oracle Siebel Clinical Trial Management and Monitoring Cloud Service” to help manage and monitor its more than 300 clinical trials a year and continue to provide best-in-class solutions.

“Clinical teams will be able to access study data through Oracle’s single platform cloud service, eliminating the need to send data back and forth to CROs, saving us time and reducing the cost of our clinical studies,” Rob Goodwin, vice president of Pfizer Global Product Development, Center of Excellence had said in a press statement.

Use of digital technologies allows improved accuracy of patient-contributed data during and after trials. Wearable sensors, remote monitoring devices, and mobile apps help understand how patients are responding to therapies in real time, making it easy for data collection and FDA submissions. Cloud plays an important role in enabling these solutions.

Clinical categories related to technology, patient services and regulatory affairs will see an increase in outsourcing from 2018 onwards. High growth will be seen among technology-driven services such as clinical data management, biostatistics, and clinical IT, with an average CAGR of 12 to 14 percent until 2020.

An integrated eClinical approach with unification of systems (EDC, ePRO, RTSM, etc.), with all data integrated in a hub arrangement is the future of better patient-centric trials. Cloud-based delivery modes will increase in the future, owing to the ease of integration and maintenance through SaaS compared with Web-hosted or licensing models.

It is being predicted that by the end of 2018, 65 percent of interactions with healthcare facilities will occur on mobile devices. Almost 80 percent of doctors already use smartphones and medical apps in their practice. Hospitals and insurance companies now store medical records in the cloud so that patients can access their test results online 24/7.

Multiple innovations in data warehousing is taking place to keep the data more safe and secure, and to allow for better integration across platforms.

Cloud is here to stay and innovations in this space will eventually help enhance patient care.

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