At Quintiles, CIO Thomas talks about making all manner of data from trials "liquid," enabling it to be joined with data from other sources and analyzed as its keepers see fit. Under the banner of what the company calls "Infosario," the major CRO has combined various technology components--including analytics, cloud technology and web-based dashboards--with an eye toward harmonizing those tools into an integrated package.
While there's definitely some marketing savvy behind creating a brand for Infosario, which was unveiled at DIA in June, Thomas makes a case for the blend of technologies, services and processes underlying what he calls a platform being a true achievement for the company. He says the company has spent years assembling the tech parts, through outside firms and internal development, to complete the Infosario package. And the backdrop to the effort is a rapidly changing pharma industry that thirsts for cost-effective development options.
"As we look forward and we look at the challenges that the industry is facing, I think we're at an unprecedented time in the biopharma industry," Thomas said. "So this is our best foot forward in terms of bringing together a comprehensive end-to-end [technology] platform that brings together all of our data, our systems, our process and importantly, combines it with all the experience we've gained running many, many studies."
To be clear, pharma companies are less interested in the capabilities of the IT systems that CROs proffer as part of their services than the core business benefits the tech helps provide. In its third-quarter survey of thousands biopharma executives and workers, Nice Insight found that the top 6 considerations for companies seeking outsourcing partners are quality, reliability, affordability, productivity, regulatory and accessibility, respectively. Perhaps it's no surprise that, when talking about the rationale for PPD's customer dashboards, Shah said: "Probably the three bullets to keep in mind there are timeliness, quality and compliance."
Still, the branding of IT platforms appears to hold value among CROs. At PPD, it's called "Adaptive Solutions," under which the company offers virtual training tech for clinical research associates, an app for retaining patients in trials that operates on Microsoft HealthVault, and tech for risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) built on Microsoft's Amalga data aggregation system, among other things. Icon, of course, uses the "Iconik" moniker. Such tech systems appear to show the market that the outsourcers are adopting new ways to improve their services.