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The Long Road to Transformation

Saama is pleased to continue our Clinical Trial Excellence for Tomorrow and Beyond blog series, each installment of which will be authored by one of our six new Clinical Board of Advisor members. This week, Opinder Bawa, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at the University of San Francisco and former UCSF Chief Technology Officer, discusses what technology developments and trends will be critical to the successful conduct of clinical trials in the 2020s and beyond.

The process of transformation, in any industry, typically takes 30 to 50 years to complete, and such will be for the Life Sciences. Each of these transformation periods are initiated by a catalyst. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was the catalyst for the Life Sciences industry’s most recent period of transformation. As proven repeatedly over the last century, technology will remain steadfast as the nucleus of such industry transformations, including the revamp of our country’s healthcare system.

As the Life Sciences industry approaches the second decade of this metamorphosis and examines the impending landscape, it is clear that technology which substantially increases or effectively disrupts clinical trial supply chain efficiency – i.e. identifying, recruiting, and retaining patients; collecting data; core analysis; early interventions with potential subjects, etc. – will be essential to the successful conduct of future clinical trials and their outcomes.

Arguably one of the most important aspects of healthcare today and tomorrow will be clinical trials that identify promising new therapies, validate treatment protocols, and inform decisions to discontinue development efforts for less-promising drugs – in as real time as possible. Cutting-edge data analytic solutions are enabling life sciences companies to automate the most critical part of the clinical trial supply chain – to achieve these vital results in ways previously unimaginable, creating robust patient pipelines and advancing the collection, curation, analysis and reporting of data generated by those patients. 

It’s not a stretch to see data collection and analytics are at the heart of this transformative experience. If you review the work of Dr. William Bosl at University of San Francisco, a project which could identify autism as early as 3 months in infants or identify player concussions on the football field in real time, you have a front row seat to how data and analytics have the potential to change the world. Another research study which reflects this is being led by Dr. Jeff Olgin at UCSF. It seeks to substantially improve the famed Framingham Heart Study by enrolling an unprecedented 100,000 patients, and is centered around the use of state-of-the-art technology to collect data and analytics.

As the Life Sciences industry moves into the third decade of its current technological transition, leading clinical trial companies striving for growth and success will further embrace and become adopters of the clinical trial supply chain solutions offered by data analytics industry leaders. These solutions will begin to put a spotlight on early interventions resulting from highly efficient clinical trials, and ultimately change the way healthcare is practiced overall – especially by closing time-consuming gaps. Eventually, technological solutions that support the clinical trial pipeline will be integrated into every aspect of healthcare and go hand-in-hand with well visits and acute care consultations. The admission of patients into clinical trials will become a daily practice for America’s healthcare providers, as the technology that supports the clinical trial supply chain evolves and dovetails with their day-to-day practice of medicine.

David Liddle, who was my mentor at Metaphor Computer Systems in the early 1990’s, along with Ralph Kimball, showed me the power of analytics. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Sam Hawgood, now the Chancellor at UCSF, when the concept of ‘Precision Medicine’ was born – a vision which frames well this transformation period. Father Paul Fitzgerald, a humble, thoughtful, learned man and the current President of University of San Francisco, often reminds the students, staff and faculty, that each of us can make a difference in the world, and use our tradecraft to do our part.

I am pleased to do my part, including being a part of Saama’s Clinical Board of Advisors because analytics, though it requires the hardest work of all the major clinical trial technology inflection points, is the most critical and offers the greatest value to the life sciences industry.

Saama’s Clinical Trial Excellence for Tomorrow and Beyond blog series continues next week with Stephen Cunningham, M.D., President of SRC Pharma Consult and former Chief Scientific Officer and Head of U.S. Clinical Development, Medical Affairs and Evidence-Based Medicine at Novartis. Dr. Cunningham will address the types of new clinical development challenges that big pharma will face as the 21st century progresses.

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About Opinder Bawa

mmOpinder Bawa is the Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at University of San Francisco, where he is responsible for institution wide technology and innovation advancement. Just prior, Opinder was the Chief Technology Officer for UCSF, and Chief Information Officer for UCSF School Of Medicine. In these roles he provided leadership in technology, innovation, planning and delivery of solutions and services across research, education and patient care.


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