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Exclusive Interview With FutureMeds’ New Chief Client Solutions Officer: Iwona Tongbhoyai

FutureMeds recently promoted Iwona Tongbhoyai to Chief Client Solutions Officer to drive growth for clients, improve patient experience and increase recruitment reach through FutureMeds’ DCT strategy. The driving forces behind her ascension are mindset, dedication and professionalism. She never stops learning, listening to clients, patients and partners and questioning what’s possible in clinical research.

Clinical research remains a crucial part of the medical industry, where professionals and teams continuously strive to enhance medical progress and improve patients’ lives. One such driven individual is Iwona Tongbhoyai. She has devoted her career to clinical research, providing efficient study solutions to FutureMeds’ clients and patients.

This article delves into Iwona's experience and the lessons that can aid in developing improved and optimised solutions for clients, partners, and patients.

Leading with purpose

Iwona was attracted to clinical research during her time as a business consultant. She found it thrilling to work with research physicians, explore new indications, and learn something new every day. The opportunity to contribute to medical progress and positively impact patients’ lives has motivated and inspired her ever since.

“I have a strong passion for clinical research and firmly believe that with a dedicated approach, we can enhance the efficiency and quality of research while also improving the overall patient experience and their quality of life.”

- Iwona Tongbhoyai, Chief Client Solutions Officer at FutureMeds

With over 15 years of Sites and Clinical Trials Management experience and over 7 years of Business Consultancy experience, Iwona Tongbhoyai plays a pivotal role in providing successful and effective solutions to clients, partners and patients alike.

“As a problem solver, I enjoy collaborating with clients to create solutions that can set new standards in efficiency and quality while always prioritizing patient safety. FutureMeds’ recent Covid-19 treatment study contribution is a good example. We proposed a different solution to the sponsor that, based on the trends, had one of the best-forecasted outcomes. As a result, FutureMeds sites reached 205% of the initial patient population target.”

Dedicated model and site readiness

Given the growing complexity of trials, clinical trial and site operational readiness is becoming an increasingly important factor for sponsors and clients. To be able to conduct trials that start up fast, run smoothly, and stay within budget, one of Iwona’s focus areas is on continuously improving FutureMeds’ performance in this area in close collaborations with Site Operations Leaders.

"Compared to the traditional model, dedicated clinical trial sites and teams are more likely to recruit and retain patients, provide better patient experiences, avoid protocol deviations, and meet deadlines."

Dedicated teams' strong performance is rooted in their sole focus on clinical research. This leads to

  • Being well-versed in the latest methodologies, regulations, and best clinical trial practices,

  • Streamlined processes, reduced inefficiencies and errors,

  • Consistent strong team dynamics due to conducting multiple trials together over time,

  • Increased patient trust due to specialisation in clinical research.

Another often overlooked benefit of working with dedicated research sites is that Sponsors and CROs can significantly reduce the number of vendors, costs and the number of siloed solutions and fragmented accountability.

Decentralised Clinical Trials

Continuing on the trend set by the pandemic, the industry sees a steady shift towards DCTs. Moreover, this upward trend is expected to continue in the coming years for various reasons.

DCTs have multiple benefits to increasing trial efficiency, such as faster and more efficient patient recruitment, faster trial closure/outcomes

Most importantly, DCTs can create better patient engagement as they are an effective approach to overcoming current traditional trial challenges such as patient awareness, geographical distance to the sites, perceived patient burden, study duration and number of clinical visits.

But there are some challenges. Medication non-adherence issues, for instance, a challenge in clinical research, can be magnified by DCTs.

Unless addressed by site teams and patient-centric study design, the DCTs’ decreased in-person contact between participants and the study teams can negatively impact patients’ engagement and medicine-taking behaviour. Non-adherence can lead to underestimations of efficacy and, worst-case scenario, study failure.

Iwona found that Sponsors and CROs can increase study power and protect study timelines without increasing sample size or dosage by leaning on local study teams, and home nursing teams who know the patient population, and understand how to engage them to increase patient engagement and strengthen adherence.

Stronger collaborations and inclusive planning

Besides working closely with FutureMeds’ various teams to develop and improve site and trial solutions, Iwona aims to forge closer ties with global and cross-country trial sponsors.

Closer working relationships enable parties to create tailored trial solutions that comply with regulatory guidance across the target countries, catering for cross-border data standards, localisation and retention rules.

“By increasing Sponsor collaboration with Site Networks such as FutureMeds at the planning stage of new trials, Sponsors are better able to account for complexities in the trial-design planning process and therefore decrease the historically long cycle times in clinical trials.”

With the acquisition of emovis, the Berlin-based, dedicated study site and award-winning pan-European homecare visits and DCT solution provider, and increasing the DCT readiness across the whole network, FutureMeds became Europe's first DCT site network.

Finding answers faster, together

“I am enthusiastic about collaborating with stakeholders and teams to make a substantial contribution to medical progress and advance the future of medicine.”

The clinical research industry is critical, and professionals like Iwona who can encourage, motivate and influence teams, clients and partners can drive significant contributions towards medical progress, ultimately impacting the quality of life of patients globally.

As long as peers, trial stakeholders, and the clinical trial community comes together to share insights and find true solutions, the impact of the industry is likely to grow.

As a small contribution to the big picture, our emovis and FutureMeds teams are working towards creating a European DCT solution. It is expected to be finalised by September 2023.

About FutureMeds

FutureMeds is the 1st European DCT Site Network, offering high traditional trial and DCT readiness across the whole network and home nursing solutions in 16 countries.

FutureMeds’ Dedicated Research Site teams strive to accelerate study timelines, streamline processes, lower costs and improve data quality to help speed up drug development and patient access to new treatments.

Through acquisitions and a strategic focus on patient experience, FutureMeds has developed large, qualified patient pools across Europe that enable faster patient enrolment, stronger retention and more accurate results.

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