Brainstorming at the DIA Annual Meeting 2017: A Recap

Last week, setting up camp in McCormick Place in Chicago—North America’s largest convention center—we were proud to be one of more than 450 exhibiting companies gathering for the five-day Drug Information Association (DIA) Annual Meeting.

One of the vastest and longest-standing annual events in the life sciences industry, this year’s meeting brought together an impressive crowd—10,000 of the world’s brightest professionals in pharma, biotech, medtech, and government. This network shared one common goal: to foster the innovation needed for development of safe and effective medical products and therapies for patients worldwide. From our perspective, this goal was very much met.

Driving insights to action

After focusing previous meetings on two of the pharma industry’s highest priorities in recent years—big data and patient centricity—the industry has already moved toward using this information to connect and engage with clinical research participants. The next question: among the enormous amounts of data now collected in clinical trials, how do we measure what matters to patients while adhering to regulations?

This year’s theme, “Driving Insights to Action,” focused on solving this conundrum through the international exchange of actionable insights on healthcare advancement. The agenda was packed with sessions on patient engagement and clinical trial technologies, while discussions and keynotes covered a few more pressing areas.

Big data, new regulations, and disruptive technologies

eHealth standards and regulatory submissions were big topics, as well as patient engagement and lessons learned in the drug development process for rare diseases. But a key conversation starter was the upcoming regulation law in Europe, which seeks to enforce the translation of clinical trial results into layman’s terms for each trial’s location. Of course, this gave us ample opportunity to share insights about our best subject: language!

Perhaps the most topical, and our favorite topic of the meeting, was on artificial intelligence, deep learning, and its effects on the pharmaceutical industry. As drug development moves into the cloud with aggregations of more and more data from various endpoints, all attendees seemed excited to speculate on how AI will be used to analyze, automate, and drive predictions in clinical research.

Our top takeaway

Having attended DIA meetings for several years, it was interesting for us to see a notoriously risk-averse industry take a new direction. Pharma has fully embraced technologies at every level of the organization. While localization needs haven’t necessarily changed, the ways in which a clinical study is run have changed tremendously—from protocol design, electronic data capture, involvement and engagement with patients, and submissions, to market authorizations and marketing of drugs.

Whether it’s for clinical labeling, regulatory affairs, eCOA, patient eDiaries, EDC, or global marketing, content management is part of a substantial ripple effect from single departments to the enterprise level. This means, as the thousands of other DIA innovators in global health might agree, our service suite offerings need to stay closely aligned with the digitization in healthcare.

Another big thank you to everyone who visited our booth during the exhibit—we enjoyed some great conversations throughout the week. And to all others attending next year, we look forward to seeing you there!