Video Quick Take: Syneos Health’s Larry Pickett on Using Data and Technology to Improve Patient Outcomes

Todd Pruzan, HBR

Welcome to Quick HBR Video Shooting. I’m Todd Pruzan, editor for research and special projects at Harvard Business Review. I’m with Larry Pickett, director of information and digital at Syneos Health.

Today we talk about the company’s role in helping customers bring important therapies to market faster, and how Syneos Health’s technology capabilities and solutions are creating an “always on” innovation environment. . Larry, thank you very much for being with us today.

Larry Pickett, Syneos Health

Thanks Todd.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

Larry, can you describe how Syneos Health helps customers get important therapies to market faster?

Larry Pickett, Syneos Health

Sure. I’m happy to say that Syneos Health helps biotech and pharma customers develop and commercialize new therapies while engaging healthcare professionals to introduce new drugs directly to patients. We therefore offer a full range of services ranging from clinical, regulatory and commercial medical affairs. This end-to-end capability is unique in the market.

What is also unique is our innovative approach to delivering these services. We deliver by integrating the very latest in advanced data analytics and new technologies into our processes.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

Can you tell us a bit more about how you do it?

Larry Pickett, Syneos Health

Of course, Todd. As part of our strategy to become a more data- and insight-driven company, we are transforming into a digital business ecosystem with data and AI at the center. We call this ecosystem our dynamic assembly® network. And this network has two major components: upstream strategy and downstream operational execution.

Initially, the strategy is a combination of partnerships, procurement and building new capabilities to help us accelerate clinical trials and product development for our customers. And we do this through acquisitions such as StudyKIK and RxDataScience, which bring platforms of talent and technology that we can leverage on behalf of our clients. It’s on the front.

On the back-end, we are able to accelerate delivery for our customers using standard data models, pre-built connectors and automation, all running in the cloud on our data integration platform and Syneos Health technology. This allows us to digitize our business workflows in a highly repeatable and scalable way. This innovative platform works on top of any cloud provider, but is optimized for the Microsoft Azure technology stack.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

How does this dynamic assembly network help your biotech and pharma customers?

Larry Pickett, Syneos Health

Well, first and foremost, getting new therapies to market and patients faster is critical. Another thing we do is bring different talents and expertise to our clients. In-depth therapeutic knowledge, data scientists, solutions engineers, and custom digitized solutions allow us to meet the exact needs of our clients. And we are able to leverage the data integration platform and technology to bring efficiencies that our customers also benefit from.

But we also believe that how we work and how we leverage capabilities on behalf of our clients is critical. We bring them the latest data and technology in an agile, open and plug-and-play model. We constantly scan the market for new innovations, review them and bring the best to customers. Then we leverage our technology platform to connect data sources for our clients.

Our customers love having access to the latest technology and thinking while having the flexibility to use the data and technology partners they prefer. This open architecture stands in stark contrast to forcing competitors onto a proprietary platform that locks them in and quickly becomes obsolete due to rapid market advancements.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

Can you give examples of how the strategy helps patients?

Larry Pickett, Syneos Health

We use data AI and machine learning in many ways in the business. It helps us select and activate clinical trial sites, recruit patients, and optimize our resource allocation as we complete trials and bring new products to market. .

For patients, it’s essential to sign up for a trial and make it easy for them. For this, we use the analysis of the diversity of clinical trials. Our algorithms leverage real-world data, electronic medical records, demographics, and our own internal data assets to identify underrepresented and disadvantaged patients and the physicians who treat them.

Through the acquisition of Illingworth Research Group, our nurse practitioners are bringing clinical trials and medicines directly to patients’ homes. Patients are sometimes unable to move due to their condition, or the distance is simply too great for them. This approach, called decentralized clinical trials, reduces patient burden while increasing trial diversity and access.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

How do Syneos Health’s internal solutions and capabilities provide an “always on” innovation environment?

Larry Pickett, Syneos Health

The best way to think about it is to consider a business transformation effort that we have underway, which we call the Intelligent Enterprise. The goal of the intelligent enterprise, therefore, is to make data and information available to every employee and customer so that better decisions can be made along the way.

This applies to all levels of the organization, such as CRAs, project managers, field representatives, medical science liaisons, as well as managers and executives. The intelligent enterprise is an enterprise architecture composed of four layers. Basic business infrastructure is downstairs. It consists of ERP and clinical and commercial systems.

The next layer is enabling analytics. This is where dynamic assembly® the platform adapts. There we master our data, clean it and organize all data sources, external and internal, making this data available to the organization for analysis.

Next comes the algorithms and models layer, where data scientists across the organization use the data to build and deploy predictive models. These models allow us to more effectively activate clinical trial sites, recruit patients, engage healthcare professionals, and optimize many other activities across the organization.

At the top is the view and action layer. This is where employees and customers are proactively informed and given suggestions for the next best action based on the data. And it allows them to resolve any issues that may arise with their essay or project.

These suggestions are provided through an intuitive dashboard or smart app. And our employees and customers use this data to quickly pivot and focus on areas that need special attention to keep projects on track. Leveraging the end-to-end intelligent enterprise throughout the product development lifecycle gives us the data, insights and evidence we need to deliver results-based contracts to our customers.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

So, to conclude, what other elements of your technology strategy make the difference at Syneos Health?

Larry Pickett, Syneos Health

Well, while technology is very cool because it grabs everyone’s attention, our talent and culture is just as important, if not more so. We have created a collaborative culture where top talent works together in autonomous teams.

For example, the intelligent enterprise is underpinned by what we call our people architecture. This consists of employees, new hires, acquisitions such as StudyKIK and RxDataScience, and world-class partners such as Microsoft and McKinsey.

We combine these diverse skills and opinions into a cohesive and successful team. As part of this, we instill a culture of innovation, where we experiment with new ideas quickly, fail quickly, and then succeed quickly. We encourage original thinking where the best ideas win, which is why we consider this an “always on” culture of innovation.

And our DE&I efforts are also at the heart of our talent management strategy. We have an inclusive work environment, which impacts the recruitment and development of our employees, as well as promotions and succession planning. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes us stronger as a company.

Finally, we reflect on how the purpose fits – what greater good we serve when we come to work at Syneos Health every day. We come to work excited and motivated because we help bring new therapies and medicines to patients. These patients are family members, friends, neighbors and members of our communities. It gives more meaning to our work. So, DE&I, culture, talent and serving a greater good as much as our cutting-edge technology make Syneos Health a great company to work with and partner with.

Todd Pruzan, HBR

Well, Larry, that’s been a great discussion. Thank you very much for your time today.

Larry Pickett, Syneos Health

Thanks Todd. I liked that.

Learn more about how Syneos Health uses data and technology to improve patient outcomes. Visit

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