Recap from DIA Europe, 2019 in Vienna

February 26, 2019 Becky Hurt

By Isabelle de Zegher, VP Engineering, PAREXEL Informatics

 

DIA Europe Vienna is now in the books, and it was a very intensive 3 days with insightful panel discussions and many interesting presentations across several tracks. I served as the chair of Track 7: Digital Disruptors: Changing the Game along with Chris Walker from AMGEN. The track kicked off with a very well attended DIAmond session, then continued with 7 more sessions throughout the week – clarifying what we meant by digital disruptive technology; how it is changing the game for regulators, sponsors, sites; and the impact on patients as we progress toward new “connected” health care systems.

I have been attending technical tracks at DIA for several years now, and I was pleasantly surprised this year to see such a wide attendance in these sessions. Seems that the wheel is turning, and we as an industry finally understand the value of digitization in drug development – we must embrace new technology to increase speed of development, deliver more patient relevant data, and decrease uncertainty about our medicines.

As the meeting concluded, Chris and I took away the following messages:

  • Technology Disruption – The examples presented during the conference - coming from sponsors, vendors as well as regulators - show huge opportunity for greater efficiency and patient focus: eConsent, engagement apps, eCOA, sensors, bot-based patient assistant all technologies enabling virtual/remote trials; new applications such as ePIL and certainly AI & Blockchain. Many see the opportunity for a new type of products including medicine and technology-based services. In short, there is no doubt: our industry must embrace technology, define appropriate validation to trust these new applications, and focus on how to deploy them to solve healthcare problems.

  • Digital Data – New data will offer new insights; the volume and flow of data is evolving – with potentially very high volume. It may enable new endpoints as well as a greater reliance on RWE for real life outcomes. 
    Patient medical record is the yet unexploited gold mine – useful data will likely be coming from both structured and unstructured EHR with optimization of data curation through AI technology.

  • Legislative Framework - We are challenged to move away from sequential RCTs, towards a dynamic regulatory framework with increased collaboration across all stakeholders. Some disruption will require legislative change. It will certainly require new skill sets.

  • Enablers to Healthcare Disruption – Access to data (we need to solve our “data mess” as a priority), develop trust in new technologies; ensuring adequate skill sets and training and multi stakeholder agreement are key to success.

Thank you to all those who attended the sessions in Vienna for making this a dynamic and relevant discussion around the current state of digital transformation. As you move ahead on your own digital path, I encourage you to reach out so we can explore the path that is right for your organization.

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