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Millennials Are Putting Traditional Clinical Trial Model At Risk

August 2nd, 2018

Millennials have been accused of disrupting practically everything including credit cards and shopping malls. But until this spring, no one's accused them of putting the entire clinical trial model at risk.

But that's just what Kent Thoelke did. "Health care delivery and the technology adoption in health care delivery is already surpassing anything we do in drug development," he said, speaking at the inaugural event of the Bridging Clinical Research & Clinical Health Care Collaborative. That's putting "the entire model we have at risk."

Part of a panel in a session titled "CRO Perspective: Bridging Clinical Trial Processes to Real-World Health Care," Thoelke, chief science officer and EVP with PRA Health Sciences, was advocating for greater use of mobile technology in clinical trials. He made the point that 30% to 40% of people, especially millennials, don't have a primary care physician. Instead, they get their care through ambulatory clinics and outpatient hospital services. Their interaction with those services, he said, is primarily through mobile devices. Thus they are "lost to participate in clinical trials."

That's disrupting the clinical trial recruitment model, which until now has been dependent on having doctors enlist their patients. It already can take months or years to recruit enough patients to complete a trial. With the digital generation set to become the majority in just a few years, "These timelines aren't going to get better and the financial models will not sustain trials that take five or six years to recruit patients."

Trial managers and the pharmaceutical industry as a whole needs to meet the consumer where they are. That is not in a paper-driven, time invasive model. Instead, the industry needs to adopt mobile technology to increase access to trials, as well as make participation less burdensome.

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