In the Trenches at SCRS West 2023: A Deeper Dive into Pharma Research Challenges


I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS) conference, SCRS West. Engaging with peers, sharing insights, and wrestling with challenges – the conference was energetic and thought-provoking. Being part of these discussions, particularly the Global Impact Partners (GIP) meeting, it was clear there are still industry-wide problems plaguing the most fundamental capabilities in clinical operations. Fortunately, these problems resonate deeply with the work we’re championing here at ProofPilot. 

In this blog post, I’ll delve into these themes, and explore how they're propelling pharma research into a promising future for sites, patients, existing solutions, and pharma sponsors alike. 


Bridging the Technology Gap 

As to be expected, the challenges and opportunities surrounding tech adoption in pharma research were a key theme. As an industry, we've had our struggles with the adoption of new tech in terms of how it fits (or not!) into the day-to-day workflow of a study site. As we confront the next wave of technological innovation, we must apply the lessons we've learned from the past. We can’t afford to ignore the surrounding activities and the real-life implications of technology in the workflow of an incredibly taxed study coordinator. 

One critical takeaway is the need for dedicated roles to introduce and support new technologies for sites. Positions like technology liaisons or site navigators can provide continuous, multilayered support, ensuring smoother technology adoption. 

Another crucial learning is to differentiate between the customer and the end-user. Often, the ones using our technology are not the decision-makers or buyers, and their needs and situation are very different. This recognition is crucial as we continue to align the value and usability of tech solutions with the needs of both groups. 

The final key learning was a subtle but profound twist on the usual issue – “there’s too much tech.”  When you dig a little deeper, the real problem isn’t that there is “too much tech,” it’s that none of it is sequenced and served up to the user when they are required to use it.  Meaning even if a study had only 5 portals to manage, given that study staff run multiple trials at a time, the guesswork surrounding when to access those 5 portals would still be a burden that causes needless errors. 

Championing Site’s Voices  

The emphasis on the importance of elevating site staff’s voices in technology decisions was another major theme. Sites don't always have the infrastructure or funds to adopt new technologies, necessitating a balance between solving issues locally and globally. 

A novel approach of "Escape rooms," or mock run-throughs, were suggested during our GIP meeting to help sites get acquainted with new tech solutions. This approach can empower sites to embrace new technologies and adapt them in ways that work best for their specific circumstances. 

Moreover, early communication and flexible budgeting during the tech feasibility process can facilitate a better understanding of site-specific tech needs, leading to better solutions. 

The ProofPilot Way 

I was excited about the themes that emerged at SCRS West, because at ProofPilot, we understand these challenges and have chosen to tackle them head on in our platform. Our Digital Protocol Automation platform is designed to eliminate guesswork and protocol deviations, improving the overall experience for site staff and patients. Our validated solutions can also be used to assess patient and site operability, saving time and resources. 

We continuously strive to meet the needs of sites by incorporating invaluable site feedback into improving our platform. We see these insights from SCRS West as guiding principles in our product development as we aim to make ProofPilot the go-to platform for clinical researchers conducting complex clinical trials. 

Remember, our goal isn't just about technology adoption; it's about strategic technology implementation that enhances the usability of all technology, the quality of site staff efforts and improves patient experiences, and ultimately, making sure investigational medicines have the best shot at proving safety and efficacy with high-quality data. 

The insights from all the SCRS conferences inform our product work at ProofPilot, and I'm eager to see how our team will use these insights to further innovate. This is a journey, and every step brings us closer to transforming pharma research by helping all the players get 100% of the fundamentals right, 100% of the time.  

Bernadette Tosti

Bernadette Tosti brings a powerful combination of industry expertise and background in product development and patient engagement to ProofPilot. Before being an advisor for several health technology companies, Tosti held various leadership roles at Quest Diagnostics, including Executive Director, Information Ventures, Clinical Trials, where she created a clinical trials-focused data, technology, and services business line for the company. Tosti also held the role of Vice President, Patient Experience, at Science 37 and Global Head of Recruitment & Retention at IQVIA.


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