Approach to StrategyStrategy means different things in different contexts. My definition of strategy, especially corporate strategy, is determining how to most effectively drive growth of the organization within available capital and human resources. In the case of Q2 Solutions, that also means driving activities that result in helping customers, investigators, and patients.
My preferred approach to strategy starts by examining unmet needs from the customer’s perspective. For instance: what is in their drug development pipeline, what will they need to achieve their goals, and how should we evolve as an organization to be able to respond to these requests? From a timeline perspective in our industry, we typically focus on investments in the 3 to 5 year range, but that’s not to say that we don’t also think longer term. For long-term strategic planning, we try to assess the next 10-15 years and hypothesize what the future will look like; namely, what changes will occur to the healthcare environment, and how consumers and patients will leverage technology. We have our children's lives in the back of our minds, and this plays a factor in our planning.
Technology contributes greatly to patient-centered care. Currently, we are seeing a convergence of technology and patient-centric healthcare, where both consumers and payers of healthcare are increasingly interested in capturing and sharing their information. Over the next 10 or more years, patients are going to rely a lot more on electronic devices to tell them their health status in real time. We will also need to support patients wherever they are located, and that includes in the clinical trial space. If a patient is required to drive many miles to go to a clinical trial visit, that can affect his or her participation and compliance. The industry is looking to virtual or patient-centric trials as a solution, with the assumption that if patient participation is easier and more convenient, clinical trial enrollment would increase. Today, wearable smart devices and mobile apps that people already use in their daily lives are also being incorporated into clinical trials. Hence, this drives the need to understand upcoming Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that will provide access to the different devices that patients can use.
Q2 Solutions Strategies ImplementedWhen looking at the advancement of drug development, we determined that the industry needs clinical trials labs to be more nimble in reacting to the changing needs of the trial. Oncology clinical trials, for instance, continue to increase in protocol complexity. Studies enroll fewer patients, but the testing requirements are increasingly complicated, requiring us to be agile to support this paradigm. We examined our responses to customers’ requests for quick modification to the protocol. In the past, a request like this could take weeks, but we thought it should take just hours instead. Therefore, we developed a clear strategy to invest in IT, and more specifically in our Laboratory Trial Management System, LTMSTM, which allow us as a laboratory provider to leverage our infrastructure to help support customers with very fast turnaround times.
From a scientific perspective, immuno-oncology has become increasingly important. Immunotherapies require very specific testing categories like flow cytometry, anatomic pathology, and genomics, and we have committed to investing in specialized instruments and expanding our capabilities. We devote substantial resources to continually expand our genomics capabilities by buying new instruments every year. Additionally, we have invested in Flow Cytometry with an unprecedented global deployment of a sophisticated fleet of assets to help support customers. Read our Flow Cytometry news article for more details.
Additionally, we are investing in an innovative laboratory concept that we announced in November 2019 termed TSAIL (Translational Sciences and Innovation Laboratory). As new biomarkers are discovered in academic settings, the assays used are not always scalable to be deployed into a clinical trial. Investigators would like to leverage these novel biomarkers, but the industry has struggled to translate some assays from an academic setting to a clinical one. Currently, niche labs are able to scale up assays, but they focus mostly on regional trials. TSAIL is meant to address that need: our goal is to support sponsor biomarker needs earlier in the development process, and stand ready for scale up should it be required to be deployed into global clinical trials. No one in the industry can do that currently, so it's really an innovative way to help speed up clinical trial deployment.
Inspiration and InnovationI've been in healthcare for my entire career because of my passion to help people. Q2 Solutions helps to bring drugs to market faster, and that is very inspiring at a high level. But I also think of it from another perspective. The healthcare industry needs companies like ours to help them get drugs to market much faster. We have to be good at what we do, and we have to act fast. What drives me is figuring out how we can innovate to quickly address clients’ needs. The faster we do what’s needed, the faster patients will be impacted.
I'm an entrepreneur at heart so I like to try new things and see what works. I like that we are implementing a spirit of innovation to Q2 Solutions as much as possible, and I am very fortunate to be part of a company culture that embraces this spirit. We try new things within a controlled environment, and then decide if they are worth further investment. We’re piloting with a sense of purpose: if something doesn't work, our risk has been minimal. In our regulated environment that's not as easy as it sounds. We must always consider patient safety and sample management as well as other factors, and we have to work in a structured manner. But there are certainly cases in which we shouldn't be so slow to make decisions or try new things. By tying together market needs, fast experiments, and strategic execution, we’re playing a small part in helping turn hope into help so that patients can receive the treatments they need.