5 Ways Companies Can Better Manage Clinical Trials with Digital Transformation in the Pharmaceutical Industry

5 minute read

Managing clinical trials in the pharmaceutical industry is never a walk in the park. There are regulatory and compliance hurdles to overcome, recruitment and retention challenges to work through, and massive volumes of data that must be collected, stored, analyzed, and protected. These issues have only become more time-consuming, more costly, and more complex over time. Phase III clinical trials, for example, generate three times as much data as late-stage trials did a decade ago, according to 2021 research from Tufts University. That’s the equivalent of 3.6 million data points per Phase III clinical trial, according to the Tufts research. To complete a clinical trial on time and on budget in this complex environment, pharmaceutical companies must remain relentlessly focused and disciplined. They need well-designed workflows that ensure standardization, quality control, and consistency. And they need modern technology solutions that minimize sources of friction, confusion, and wasted time.

pexels-polina-tankilevitch-3735782Unfortunately, most pharmaceutical companies are not set up to optimally manage clinical trials in this high-stakes environment. The underlying problem is a lack of access to the right technology infrastructure that enables meaningful workflow optimization. The average pharmaceutical company is using decades-old systems that are disconnected from one another; these systems unnecessarily silo data and cause employees to spend copious time completing manual, inefficient, repetitive tasks.

Leadership in the average organization, meanwhile, struggles with visibility into the status and progress of clinical trials—until it’s too late to intervene effectively. And when it comes to collecting and managing data for clinical trials, pharmaceutical companies’ time is consumed trying to achieve quality control, privacy, security, and safety.


Digital Transformation in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Digital transformation is the key to easing all of these pain points. Through digital transformation, pharmaceutical companies standardize, streamline, and automate their key clinical trial workflows. Instead of constantly obsessing over accuracy, consistency, and speed, pharmaceutical companies can have confidence that quality will be maintained, allowing them to redirect their focus to improving the clinical trial experience for participants. Digital transformation also enables pharmaceutical companies to modify and adapt their clinical trials in real time, enabling these studies to reach relevant, actionable conclusions that meaningfully improve patient care. Let’s explore five digital transformation strategies that pharmaceutical companies should implement to optimize management of their clinical trials:

  1. Align Projects to organizational goals and budgets

    In the average pharmaceutical company, every division fights fiercely for sufficient allocations of resources. Most will—knowingly or unwittingly—put their own best interests ahead of the organization’s. In fact, if the company’s leadership does not impose consistent, fair decision-making processes, resource allocation planning can quickly become reduced to infighting, jockeying and backroom deals. Digital transformation helps pharmaceutical companies rise above this fray, providing powerful tools for analyzing and assessing the value of projects and programs in relation to overarching organizational goals and budgets. By generating a broad range of highly relevant KPIs (key performance indicators), decision-makers in the C-suite and/or the PMO (project management office) can readily understand how existing resources are being utilized, the cost of these resources in relation to benefits realized or anticipated and how infusions of additional resources would change the ROI trajectory of one or more of these projects. Significantly, these data-driven analyses are intuitive, automated and being generated in real time. Through these analyses, decision-makers are able to systematically evaluate how well individual projects and initiatives are aligned to organizational goals and budgets.

  2. Ensure Every Resource Allocation Decision Gets Made Based on Data

    Resource allocation decisions should never be made based on gut instinct or political pressure. And yet that’s precisely how these decisions often get made in pharmaceutical companies—or at least how they’re perceived to be made. Pharmaceutical companies can fight these stereotypes by embracing a data-first philosophy—a central tenet of digital transformation in which hard data and analyses become front and center in every action and decision. Indeed, instead of relying on gut instinct or bowing to political pressure, decision-makers use data—and only data—to make informed, consistent, transparent decisions about resource allocations. Data-informed decision-making becomes especially important during times of budget cutting, when decision-makers must optimally balance short-term operational disruptions with a weakened long-term revenue trajectory. In other words, when budgets must be trimmed, no one wants the excruciating task of deciding whether the company’s marketing budget should be cut by 25%, or if the company’s next clinical trial should be delayed by a year. By turning to data, pharmaceutical companies can make resource allocation decisions that are consistent, fair and informed.

  3. Identify Underutilized, Overutilized, and Noncompliant Resources

    Much of resource demand management, by definition, focuses on the demand side. But demand is only half of the equation. Equally important is managing the resources side. As any team in a pharmaceutical company can attest, there’s waste and inefficiency hiding in every corner. The problem is how to systematically identify and efficiently weed out this waste—it’s certainly not cost-effective to do so manually. Digital transformation gives pharmaceutical companies the technology infrastructure to holistically manage usage and entitlement information for resources across the organization, including cost information, utilization rates, and quantification of the business value derived from the resource. Using this data, pharmaceutical companies can automatically flag underutilized, overutilized and noncompliant resources—both human assets and physical assets, including digital ones. In this way, companies can focus on eliminating waste—instead of spending copious time just working to identify it. Furthermore, when there’s a compliance problem with a resource, it can be identified and rectified immediately, mitigating risks to the organization.

  4. Make the Costs of Resources More Apparent

    Just as departments and teams tend to put their own resource needs before the organization’s, many departments—or at least individuals within them—ignore and downplay the costs of their resource consumption. Thus, the solution is to make the costs of resource consumption more apparent and explicit. Digital transformation gives organizations the ability to build awareness and understanding of these costs. For example, pharmaceutical companies can create a service catalog that—in addition to providing a menu of HR, IT, and other services that teams can request—puts a dollar value on the cost of these services. Every time a team requests services, and every time team leadership approves the requests, the system can automatically communicate the costs of these services to the requestor. These insights force every employee to think critically about every resource request they made—and ultimately make smarter resource allocation decisions aligned with organizational priorities and goals.

  5. Elevate Reporting Standards for Project Planning and Management

    Pharmaceutical companies manage incredibly complex, highly regulated project portfolios. There are enormous resource costs associated with ensuring quality, protecting patient safety and privacy, and complying with all applicable policies and laws. The C-suite and PMO in most pharmaceutical companies have some sense of how resources are being expended on projects, but where they have knowledge gaps, the organization struggles to optimally allocate and leverage resources to support project portfolios. Digital transformation creates transparency and visibility throughout the project management lifecycle. By injecting standardization and automation into project management workflows, pharmaceutical companies can generate, collect, analyze, and report a continuous stream of data and insights. This enhanced analysis and reporting helps the C-suite and PMO make informed decisions about what levels and types of resources to allocate to project portfolios, as well as identify opportunities for how to achieve more for less via cost-leveraging and synergies.

Resource and demand management will never be an easy task for an industry that is constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. But digital transformation can help ease the burden by optimizing visibility, controls and the types of insights available to the C-suite, the PMO and project managers and facilitators. Digital transformation enables pharmaceutical companies to align their projects to organizational goals and priorities, make resource allocation decisions based exclusively on data, identify resources that are noncompliant or being sub-optimally utilized, drive home the costs of resources for those who consume them, and enhance the data-driven insights available to decision-makers.


Talk to Crossfuze

Crossfuze specializes in helping pharmaceutical companies understand how resources are being utilized and how to optimize resource allocation decisions for the benefit of the entire organization. To learn more about how we leverage the ServiceNow platform to drive digital transformation for pharmaceutical companies, please reach out to Crossfuze today. We look forward to helping you gain unprecedented visibility, control, and insight as you adeptly manage resources and demand across your organization.

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