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Leading Clinical Data Transformation: Q&A with Katrina Rice

In our latest Biometrics Services Spotlight blog, we had the pleasure of speaking with Katrina Rice, Chief Delivery Officer, Biometrics Services at eClinical Solutions. Katrina leads the global clinical data acquisition, clinical data management and biostatistics teams, and drives initiatives to drive stronger outcomes for sponsors of all sizes, bringing together people, process, and technology. In our discussion, Katrina tells us about her career journey and motivations, her perspectives on current industry trends and her experience leading teams through transformation.

Can you tell us a little about your career journey?

My career spans over 25 years in the life sciences space, and I’ve been part of the eClinical team from the early days of the company’s journey. Over the course of my career, I’ve had the pleasure of growing and developing data and technology focused teams, leading business transformations, managing large client portfolios, and helping with client acquisition and growth.

At eClinical Solutions, one of my areas of focus is maximizing the technologies that we use, including elluminate® and any other products that we use to deliver our services. I’m operationally accountable for the overall outcomes of our clinical biometrics services and scale a team of individuals that will deliver at the highest quality, combining our data management and biostatistics outsourcing services with technologies.  It’s been an exciting and stimulating career so far.

What do you see as the major challenges facing the biopharmaceutical industry today?

More than ever, clinical development and data management professionals are challenged to increase operational efficiency and reduce trial cycle times. Sponsors and service providers alike are grappling with the question – how do we compress the time it takes us to reach key milestones while maintaining quality? During the pandemic, we saw a significant boost in innovation and rapid acceleration of development and approval timelines. That experience has given industry leaders pause for thought, and the impetus to focus on how we can replicate these improvements more generally.

Alongside this, we’re facing growing complexity within clinical trials, talent scarcity, and a consequent shift in the type of skills that are needed to be successful within the clinical data environment. There are also promising opportunities to grasp, including the growth of capabilities within automation and advanced analytics. In summary, there are multiple interconnected challenges and opportunities that we need to navigate as biometrics professionals. The rewards of getting it right are high, and on the other hand, we will soon reach a tipping point where traditional processes are simply unscalable.

What are some of the most important trends today, and how do you see them evolving?

With the availability of new data technologies and advanced analytics, we need to examine how we harness them most effectively to help us reduce cycle times. Then, with the growing focus on patient centricity and diversity, from a practical point of view, how do we maximize and bring in decentralized technologies into this landscape that is already complex? Essentially, we need to go deeper, and consider how we harness the potential of these trends at a pragmatic level. Most importantly, as we discussed in our Industry Outlook report, to achieve the reduced cycle times and desired efficiency outcomes, we must embrace automation in the near term. Automation emerged as the top priority for leaders within our Industry Outlook for good reason – because it has the potential to deliver immediately realizable gains. With that in mind, at eClinical Solutions, we’re focusing on ‘intelligent automation’, which combines automation with artificial intelligence, and applying this across the data lifecycle to achieve these cycle time improvements while maintaining quality in our highly regulated industry.

What are you most excited about for the future?

I feel particularly excited about, and confident in, our ability to bring value to our clients by applying this intelligent automation and other technological advances to achieve better outcomes. We already have several key initiatives in place to automate routine tasks across the data lifecycle for our clients. On top of this comes our expansion into decentralized trials through deepening capabilities, such as our Center of Excellence for External Data, and wider partnerships.

From a technology standpoint, we’re extremely excited about the continual innovation of elluminate, especially the artificial intelligence capabilities of eIQ Review to enhance clinical data review and data quality by more efficiently identifying outliers.

The technology roadmap will naturally help our elluminate clients achieve their goals and keep pace with the rapidly evolving, increasingly data-centric trial landscape. In addition, it will empower our biometrics services organization, as users of our technology, to deliver our outsourced data management and biostatistics solutions more efficiently. Alongside this continual innovation and technology adoption, we are also excited about the potential within our teams as we develop our talent to further scale and anticipate the needs of our clients.

What’s your leadership philosophy?

Anyone who’s worked with me will know that I have a very distinct leadership personality. My style is bold and assertive, I’m comfortable with change and I believe that it’s important as a leader to take calculated risks when needed.

My early life experiences as the middle child in my family shaped me to be extremely driven, have my voice heard, and make a difference. I was fortunate to have been guided as a college student onto the perfect path for me – computer science – that made me feel like I had found my place in the world. That experience of mentorship inspired me to make that same impact on others.

What leadership qualities do you think are most important as we navigate transformation?

In this environment where innovation is so vital to growth, I believe that teams and organizations benefit from leaders who have technical knowledge, as well as people skills. We need to understand what our teams face day to day to be able to help them forge a path forward. I’m fortunate that I do have a strong technical competency that helps keep my leadership grounded and enables me to deliver impactful, practical outcomes in collaboration with my team.

The other area I am passionate about is the power of adopting storytelling as leaders to help our teams confidently navigate change. I’ve found in my own experiences leading our biometrics teams through transformation, that storytelling can be a powerful strategic tool to energize our people with a drive to seize new opportunities. By painting a picture of the future and sharing our vision about the potential of new tools we can inspire every team member to become a champion of change.

Katrina’s leadership lessons for navigating change and innovation:

  • Look outwards. Engage with outside groups of like-minded people to keep abreast of industry trends, and gain inspiration.
  • Stay hands-on. I love it when my team call me to ask, “what would you do in this situation?”.
  • Give back. I believe as a leader that we have a responsibility to guide, mentor and show others that they can make their goals a reality.
  • Keep learning. I’m still learning as a leader and as our workplace demographics change, we need to reevaluate and adapt our styles.
  • Tell stories. Storytelling is a vital part of my leadership toolkit in painting a picture of the future and helping our teams to navigate the challenges and opportunities of change.

To learn more about key drivers shaping the clinical biometrics landscape today, and the opportunities for transformation across people, process, and technology, download our eBook, The New Clinical Biometrics Blueprint.

About Katrina Rice


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2024 Industry Outlook: Driving Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs with Clinical Data Transformation