Friday, October 7, 2016

Applying Wozniak’s Take on Innovation to Clinical Research


By, April Schultz, Content Marketing Writer, Forte Research Systems

Admittedly, my inner technology nerd squealed with excitement at the chance to hear Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder/Chief Scientist at Apple Computer, speak at Biotech Week Boston (BWB) today. Wozniak's presence at BWB and Partnerships in Clinical Trials US proved very appropriate, reasserting some of the overarching themes that have maintained a consistent presence over the past three days. Wozniak’s talk served as a reminder of the power of innovation to produce real results and ultimately influence the way individuals function on a daily basis. In the clinical research industry, similar innovation and forward thinking can lead to life-changing therapies, as well as improvements to the drug development process overall.

Aligning the industry 

During his interview, Wozniak touched on the need for companies to remain open to change. He noted, “When something simpler comes along, you often don’t see it.” Wozniak applied this to the unfortunate tendency for corporate culture to adopt an attitude of stagnation, holding to age old values rather than adjusting to meet changes in society. In clinical research, this is all too familiar. While the research industry is full of brilliant minds and innovative ideas, the clinical trial process and its associated bodies are notoriously slow to adopt change. This slow adoption may be attributed to stakeholder silos, largely between sponsors, sites and patients.
During day three of Partnerships in Clinical Trials, The Avoca Group raised the compelling question of whether or not it is possible to break these silos and encourage strategic partnerships within the industry. Avoca representatives presented recent survey results regarding the purpose and effectiveness of strategic alignments in the industry, revealing an increase in the amount of strategic partnerships in clinical research and noting a marked improvement in satisfaction of partner organizations.

The group then turned to a panel of industry experts to discuss methods for further increasing the effectiveness of these strategic partnerships and allowing for faster adoption of innovative practices. Shree Kalluri, Founder and CEO of both Forte Research Systems and Nimblify Inc., asserted that these silos can be broken by establishing a new breed of technology to integrate all stakeholders in the industry. He believes this integration will allow for real-time visibility into clinical trial function and data for all stakeholders, creating greater efficiencies in clinical trial processes.

Making participation easy 

Aligning the clinical research industry through technological integration could also lead to improved outcomes and experiences for clinical trial participants. Wozniak mentioned the need to keep product design simple to meet the expectation of the consumer, something which helped Apple become a frontrunner in the tech industry. "People want things easy” he stated. He discussed how Steve Jobs worked to produce technology that integrates into the customer’s daily life as seamlessly as possible. This again applies to the clinical research industry’s need to focus efforts towards participant-centric trial design.

Tina Rees’ presentation on human factors research discussed this concept of making therapies as easy as possible for the participant. Rees talked about her work at Eli Lilly as a Senior Research Scientist in Human Factors, highlighting the importance of human factors research in the drug and device approval process. This type of research analyses how users interact with drugs and devices and ultimately determines how to improve these products to allow greater ease-of-use. If clinical trials were to adopt a similar mindset, studies would be designed with the participant in mind. Trials would adopt methods to integrate the study into the participant’s life, rather than asking them to change normal behaviors.

Overall, Wozniak’s interview highlighted the clinical research industry’s desire and potential to achieve life-changing innovations. His presence at BWB and Partnerships in Clinical Trials US reminded the audience that innovation and great ideas are not ignited through stringent structure, but spark from genuine curiosity and passion. Nearing the end of his talk, Wozniak declared, “Curiosity leads to random behavior.” Coming from a man as intelligent and successful as Steve Wozniak, it can be attested that random behavior and out-of-the-box thinking can surely lead to greatness - particularly in the clinical research space.

April Schultz is the Content Marketing Writer at Forte Research Systems, a developer of clinical research software. She manages Forte’s content calendar, oversees content posted to the Forte Clinical Research Blog and works with presenters to host Forte’s monthly educational webinar series.

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