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DPharm 2016 Day Two Recap

  • September 21, 2016

  • September 21st, Boston, the 6th annual DPharm: Disruptive Innovations to Advance Clinical Trials conference has drawn to a close. DPharm day two featured engaging discussions on a variety of topics, including:

    1. DPharm Idol

    Florence Healthcare, an Atlanta-based provider of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) clinical trial document management platform, won this year’s DPharm Idol competition.

    The Florence eBinder Suite enables clinical trial sites to transfer paper files to the cloud. As such, eBinders help eliminate a “key bottleneck” by providing a digital workspace that connects sites directly to sponsors and contract research organizations (CROs), according to Florence founder Ryan Jones.

    In addition, DPharm Idol judge Andreas Koester, MD, PhD, said he believes Florence’s eBinders could serve as a key time-saver for clinical investigators.

    “We thought the solution that Florence has developed can make a difference and free up time for investigators, giving them more time to work with patients,” he stated.

    The arrow appears to be pointing upward for Florence, too. Jones pointed out that his company has grown 80% month over month in the last year, and the typical eBinder user spends an average of 30 minutes or more per session – both of which are positive signs for Florence moving forward.

    1. Customer-Centricity

    What does it take to implement a “customer-centric” strategy in clinical trials? Customer service keynote speaker Chip Bell explored the topic in detail during his address to DPharm attendees.

    According to Bell, a customer-centric strategy encompasses:

    • Advocacy
    • Brand protection
    • Retention
    • Volunteerism

    Furthermore, he pointed out that customer expectations continue to rise, which means clinical sites will need to differentiate themselves to meet or exceed these expectations.

    “It seems to me that there is a great return on investing in creating a great customer experience,” Bell stated. “It is the unexpected little things that we do that create that memorable experience.”

    Building a customer-centric strategy is “a never-ending journey,” Bell said. However, clinical sites that drive “a culture of scouts,” Bell said, will be better equipped to learn about customers, anticipate their needs and deliver an unparalleled experience.

    1. Community

    Consistent community engagement is a goal for many clinical sites, yet it often seems impossible to achieve. But Roni Zeiger, co-founder of online community Smart Patients, explored how clinical sites can build and maintain a community for an extended period of time.

    Zeiger noted the key tenet of a successful community involves “not just listening, but listening forever.”

    If clinical sites understand the needs of community members, they may be better equipped to engage with them consistently.

    Also, Zeiger said clinical sites should operate fearlessly, particularly when it comes to community engagement.

    “We have to design to allow for failure,” he noted. “We have to expect failure with some of these new things that we’re trying.”

    1. Zika Virus

    The Zika virus has raised many questions among medical professionals, and at times, has appeared unstoppable. Conversely, David O’Connor, PhD, created the Zika Experiment-Science Team (ZEST) to help scientists learn about the Zika virus, and he shared some of his ZEST experiences with DPharm attendees.

    O’Connor launched the ZEST data portal, empowering scientists with up-to-date information about the Zika virus. By doing so, he was able to educate and inform scientists about the dangers associated with the Zika virus and facilitate collaborative research like never before.

    Ultimately, the ZEST data portal has become a leading resource for Zika information, and O’Connor said the portal results have extended beyond his expectations.

    “It’s really been far more successful than we could have ever imagined,” he noted. “If we had waited until June to announce our intentions … we would not be in the position that we’re in right now in respect to knowing what we do now about the Zika virus.”

    1. Big Pharma and Startups

    What does it take for a startup to succeed in the pharmaceuticals sector? It may seem like a case of David versus Goliath at times, particularly as startups search for ways to grow in a market dominated by big pharma. Comparatively, partnerships between startups and big pharma can be mutually beneficial, and several startup and big pharma experts discussed the importance of collaboration between these two distinct groups as part of the DPharmX section of DPharm.

    Driving innovation in the pharmaceuticals space often requires patience and resources, leading many startups to shy away from this segment entirely. But with the right data at its disposal, a startup may be able to make headway in the pharmaceuticals space.

    “Data is critical to make a case as to why you should be adopted,” said Adam Hanina, MD, CEO of advanced medication adherence solutions provider AiCure.

    At the same time, startups must understand their role within the pharmaceuticals space. Meanwhile, failure to do so may lead a startup to overpromise – something that could prove to be extremely costly and time-consuming.

    “I think it is important for industry to understand where the startup is coming from. And I think it is important for the startup to understand that is unacceptable in the healthcare space,” said Matthew Amsden, CEO of startup ProofPilot. “Together, industry and startup can meet in the middle.”

    Although the 2016 DPharma conference is over, next year’s conference will be here soon. Be sure to check out our blog for updates on the 2017 DPharma conference.

    DPharm is researched and produced by the Conference Forum, a research and conference development firm dedicated to the the overall topic of how to get therapeutics to patients faster. For more information,