UK announces vision for future of clinical research

The UK government has released a report outlining their vision for the future of clinical research delivery. Shaped by the significant contribution of research during the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘Saving and Improving lives: the Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery’ calls for a more inclusive, patient-focused research ethic within the NHS, with a particular focus on data-driven research enabled by digital tools.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, concluded of the vision: “Ground-breaking technologies, data and analytics will transform healthcare and save lives.”

WHY IT MATTERS

The report identifies 5 key themes for developing the future best practice of clinical research delivery:

  • Embedding clinical research into the NHS
  • Ensuring research is patient-orientated
  • Ensuring research is streamlined and efficient
  • A focus on research driven by data and digital tools
  • Fostering a supported workforce with sustainable research practices

Digital innovation is at the heart of this new vision, not only as a means of delivery but explicitly identified as a goal itself. This is reflected in the strategy portion of the paper, where focus lands on expanding digital platforms, developing innovative research designs, diversifying research and strengthening service-user involvement.

“Driven by data and analytics, new technologies and treatments are transforming the way we diagnose, treat and prevent illness,” says the report. “We are determined that the UK is at the forefront of this healthcare revolution and our vision sets out how we will deliver a clinical research ecosystem which capitalises on innovation, delivers for all research sponsors, is resilient in the face of future healthcare crises and offers fresh hope for patients across the UK.”

THE LARGER PICTURE

‘Saving and Improving Lives’ is a cross-UK report, establishing a commitment across the administrations to advancing clinical research. As a devolved power, each administration will be able to enact the vision in its own way, focusing on what is best for the health of their citizens. For instance, it will supplement Northern Ireland’s ongoing 10-year strategy for ‘Research for Better Health and Social Care’. All administrations have, however, agreed to work collaboratively and pool resources to ensure a UK-wide effort.

ON THE RECORD

“Clinical research is the backbone of healthcare – it is the way we improve the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and improves the lives of patients across the country,” added Hancock. “By taking advantage of our world-renowned research expertise, and a strong partnership between business, academia, the NHS and government, we are determined to make the UK the best possible place to carry out clinical research that will improve the health of people here and across the world.”

These sentiments were echoed by Minister of Innovation, Lord Bethell: “We are rapidly approaching a step change in global healthcare, with new technologies and treatments transforming the way we diagnose, treat and prevent illness. We need to act now to position the UK at the forefront of this healthcare revolution. Our vision sets out how we will achieve a clinical research delivery system in the UK which is innovative, delivers for all research sponsors and patients and is resilient in the face of future healthcare crises.”

Laurent Fanichet, VP at Sinequa, commented: “The UK government’s vision for medical research paves the way for the NHS to become data-driven, providing a promising outlook for the future of healthcare as we start to recover from the current crisis. The global push for rapid technology adoption and data-driven decision making due to COVID-19 will support the creation of an innovative ecosystem that will propel research and enhance NHS care.

“Implementing new guidelines is only the first step, however,” Fanichet continued. “Government agencies must work closely with the NHS to ensure that employees have fast access to accurate information and the right tools to conduct clinical studies that comply with GDPR regulation. In supporting the workforce, the UK will be one step closer to building a digitally enabled healthcare system, facilitating the creation of new treatments, drugs and vaccines that will support frontline workers and improve the lives of patients.”

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