2020 Predictions in Real-World Evidence, Part 5: Evolving Service Providers

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As appreciation grows for the contribution of real-world evidence (RWE) and real-world data (RWD) to clinical research, the application of RWE/RWD within this space is treated with circumspection. To help stakeholders confidently explore the benefits of adopting real-world evidence applications, Jeff Trotter, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Evidence, has been identifying key trends within the industry.

This is the final installment in Jeff Trotter’s five-part blog series, “2020 Predictions in Real-World Evidence.” Read his third prediction here.

Prediction #4: Evolving Service Providers

The contract research organization of 2020 and beyond really understands the role of real-world data. It knows the analytical nuances of RWD and where it fits alongside traditional clinical research activity. Perhaps most importantly, the CRO is able to advise clients on the when, why, and how of leveraging RWD. Meanwhile, the challenge remains for CROs to present appropriately designed prospective initiatives in real-world evidence that will increasingly embrace hybrid approaches. Because RWD poses a challenge to the CRO business model, I fully expect to see some interesting mergers, acquisitions, and collaborations in 2020 among traditional CROs and data providers.

At the same time, we’re already seeing new service providers with creative access to data from a variety of sources and internal analytical capabilities to boot. Life sciences companies are already inundated with offerings from these new providers that appropriately challenge traditional processes for product development, approval, and commercialization. Sorting all of this out is another job for the Chief Data Officer!

Still, I remember attending a conference last year that presented a variety of frankly amazing health technologies that, in a lot of cases, provided solutions for problems that hadn’t yet arisen—and may never! Before we get too enamored with gilded new solutions, let’s wait a beat. Companies seeking service providers and advisors should reaffirm strategic and analytical goals for evidence and engagement, remain cognizant of the limitations of RWD, set realistic and informed expectations, and stay mindful of the needs of key stakeholders in the healthcare landscape.

In Conclusion, Looking Forward

This is the start of what I can easily predict will be an absolutely fascinating decade of innovation. The Decade of Data will challenge existing strategy, operational processes, and organizational structures for life sciences companies, service providers, and, for that matter, physicians, patients, and many new players in the healthcare landscape. Many may find the change daunting, but developments in technology, patient-centricity, science, politics, and other spaces will make innovation a necessity. I predict the healthcare landscape in 2030 will look far different from today—in ways we never would or could predict!

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