Clinical Care as a Care Option
PRA Health Sciences
PRA Health Sciences

Clinical research as a care option (CRAACO) is a model that has the potential to improve overall health outcomes beyond the clinical endpoints for which clinical trials are designed. The reality is many patients are unaware of clinical research opportunities. Often clinical research is seen as something separate from healthcare, but higher rates of clinical trial participation can produce better patient outcomes and lower cost of care. Health systems and patients get access to the latest research and pharma can get access to more patients in need of clinical research options.

The concept of CRAACO was introduced at DPharm 2014. DPham is an annual event designed to showcase innovative ideas to advance drug development. We asked Valerie Bowling, a 20-year veteran conference developer for the Pharma R&D industry, what we can expect to see covered at the 8th annual DPharm: Disruptive Innovations to Advance Clinical Trials conference that she’s organized since 2010.

PRA is a proud corporate sponsor of this year’s DPharm: Disruptive Innovations to Advance Clinical Trials conference in Boston on September 25-26.

How are you covering clinical research as a care option?

This will be our fourth year addressing CRAACO as a movement that aims to organize the foundation that’s needed to better present it as a choice to patients within the healthcare continuum. We have a track dedicated to CRAACO with Mass General, Biogen, Vertex Pharma, patient advocates, the Society for Participatory Research, Chicago Cancer Center, ACRP, the Greater Gift, Circuit Clinical and, of course, PRA Health Sciences. PRA’s Kent Thoelke, EVP, Chief Scientific Officer will help us lead a discussion on reducing the barriers to entry for patients and how we can help democratize access to clinical trials by integrating them in patients’ daily lives.

What examples are you featuring to help reduce the burden to patients and investigators?

DPharm’s purpose is to report on innovation that simplifies the process for patients and investigators, so we have organized the agenda to cover technology, industry case studies, and service/culture. To highlight a few case studies, both Boehringer Ingelheim and Sanofi will share lessons learned from implementing a digital strategy for a remote clinical trial experience. Bayer will tell us about using virtual assistants for sites and patients. I’ll also highlight Amgen, who will talk about how they leveraged digital technology, while engaging patients to deliver a modern clinical trial experience.

On day two of DPharm, one of our track choices is “How to Create a Service Oriented Culture in Drug Development”, where we hear directly from patients on where we can do better. This section concludes with Chip Bell, the number two keynote speaker in the world on customer service according to Global Gurus. Chip has worked across every industry and will tell us that the industry may not view patients as customers, but patients view themselves as customers, consumers of healthcare and pharmaceuticals. Chip will give the DPharm audience some powerful ideas to influence a culture of service for patients and investigators.

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How do you balance reporting on disruptive innovation and covering innovation to help advance clinical trials?

We address the disruptive ideas mainly through keynotes. These are people mostly from outside the industry, who have accomplished something disruptive. For example, our global keynote, Indrek Õnnik, is part of a team from Estonia that helped digitize the entire country, enabling patients to own their data and choose their own medications digitally. Another example is Dr Anthony Atala, who is the ultimate key opinion leader for regenerative medicine at Wake Forest. Dr Atala is working on making 3D organs to potentially reduce the need for patients in early drug development. A further example is Mark Johnston from Amazon Web Services, who will describe to the DPharm audience how to innovate like Amazon.

Less disruptive examples of innovation, but still innovation that is practical and effective, comes from several companies, including AstraZeneca, Allergan, BMS, Sanofi, Amgen, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bayer, Roivant, Roche, Janssen, Pfizer and others. Most of these examples are from small teams with big ideas.

Where does AI fit in?

MIT, Johns Hopkins, Harvard and Novartis will be addressing AI and Machine Learning, from calculating clinical trial complexity and predicting odds of success, to driving greater accuracy in drug development and the use of conversational platforms.

Is there anything else you want to highlight about DPharm?

This year, we have doubled our coverage of patient data access. As we anticipate a future with secure patient data ownership, especially given what we are already seeing with the use of blockchain, Janssen will discuss “Patient Data Access from Concept to Implementation” and Pfizer’s Craig Lipset will host a coordinated series of talks on the “Democratization of Patient Data Ownership” with patients, providers, CMS, GSK and Hu-manity.

For more information on the 8th annual DPharm conference, visit

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