CRO Culture Shift: Re-framing AI in Clinical Trials

How AI can reshape the clinical trial space

For AI to truly reshape the clinical trial space, Contract Research Organizations (CROs) and pharmaceutical companies alike need to re-frame their offerings. Adapting to the continually growing applications of AI is much like adapting to the landscape of ever-multiplying biotechs. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have absorbed small, innovative companies and ideas. Incorporating AI developments into the pharma pipeline will pave the way to outsourcing and spurring innovation.

At first glance, the use of AI and machine learning in clinical trials could seem like a threat to CROs. They often pitch their value in terms of their unique connections, research, and ability to parse data. But in truth, integrating AI and clinical trials could actually improves that value proposition. Eventually, the use of AI can become a main selling point for CROs. Effective AI pharmaceutical development demonstrates an ability to be cutting-edge while offering traditional benefits.

AI’s Value Proposition to CROs

AI applications can help CROs do their important work more efficiently and effectively. Have access to a massive network of patients? AI can pick needles out of your haystack, finding patients with the right diagnosis, age, race, location, and even family history. Know study centers so well you have three matches in your brain before you’ve finished reading the study title? Use AI to determine which location will be cheapest, fastest, and most successful. Able to collect piles of data from wearables and patient-installed apps to expand your reach? Use AI to analyze that data and present early results.

Process Integration

CROs that want to survive and thrive in the age of AI need to make AI pharmaceutical development part of their daily workstreams.

Expediting adoption of new AI systems requires an understanding of AI’s role in the CRO process. As I noted in a previous post, the unknown is frightening. Remind clinical research associates that AI can’t replace them. On the contrary, AI is designed to make their jobs faster and easier. Companies that are versatile enough to adjust to developing AI will lead the clinical trial world in a way that will create a positive feedback loop. Those using AI solutions will improve performance for their clients. This, in turn, will yield more business, which will provide even more data points to perfect their AI processes.

AI First

With education and transparency, thorough guidelines and oversight, and not insignificant effort, the clinical trial world can move from “How do I use AI?” to “How would I live without it?”

A technology-first approach is likely to become the norm as CROs strive to stay competitive. Your company may want to consider developing your own CRO AI systems rather than outsourcing the efforts. But there are already plenty of options to choose from. In an upcoming post, I’ll discuss a few uses of AI that are already revolutionizing the clinical trial scene.

By re-framing your relationship with AI as beneficial rather than threatening, you can leverage its potential. The more you use AI, the smarter it will get for your next use—which makes using it a very smart choice.

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April M. Crehan
April M. Crehan