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An Unforgettable First SCDM Experience in Seattle


uMotif CEO, Bruce Hellman, shares his highlights from SCDM 2018

Seattle. Thursday 27th September 2018. They say you never forget your first time at SCDM, and that's certainly the case for my colleagues and I, who spent a wonderful three days in Seattle with industry colleagues and friends. What a fantastic conference! It felt like there was an excellent level of discussion and learning throughout the meeting. All attendees were actively involved in every session, many of which were packed to standing room only.

One of the key themes from the event was the level of interest in virtual trials and the common agreement that hybrid approaches, combining elements of traditional site-based and newer digital methodologies, will be the first step, with certain trial phases and therapeutic areas taking the lead.

There was, however, a pragmatic acceptance that some studies will never be virtual, but could be positively supported by the adoption of some virtual techniques. A number of potential approaches were discussed, such as enhanced at-home patient experience using digital technology, improving the overall patient experience and keeping them connected to the study, while reducing the burden and friction associated with frequent site visits.

One of the sister topics to virtual trials was eConsent, which has the potential to deliver numerous benefits for all clinical research stakeholders. The discussion highlighted that there are common issues faced by sponsors, CROs and vendors, including IRB acceptance, e-signature capture and identity verification – particularly for clinical phase studies. It was heartening to hear the consensus that these are not insurmountable in the medium to long term.

On a personal note, I was delighted to have been part of three, very different, animated panel discussions. One on the future of clinical trials, another focused on the concepts of privacy and cloud hosting, and a feisty debate on what will be the biggest change agent for our industry over the next five years.

My key takeaway from these discussions, and something that surprised me, was the level of commonality and agreement across different parts of the industry that patient centricity needs to move from buzzword to standard practice. Some of the key blockers discussed were data privacy, site management and how technology needs to progress and be adopted to enable more patients to take part in research, on their terms. I was also honoured to be the judging panel's winner. They agreed with my assertion that the patient will be the biggest driver of change in the coming years.

What a fantastic event! We are so looking forward to Baltimore in 2019. Who knows what special guest will join us next time?