The Technologists

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PharmaVOICE Staff

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Steve Powell
Tackling Technology Innovation with a Patient-Focus

Title: Executive VP of Trial Oversight
Company: ERT
Education: BSc (Hons),  Mathematics, University of Wales, Cardiff
Family: Lori, his wife who supports him in the career decisions and the changes he makes; Betty and Eddie, his mother and father who sacrificed so much to put him through college during tough times in the 1980s in the valleys of South Wales; and his two kids Lewes and Indigo who make it all worthwhile
Hobbies: Watching and supporting rugby; playing golf and tennis; music and acting as an ad hoc DJ at social gatherings
Bucket List: Watch a British & Irish Lions rugby match, which means a trip to South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand in the future; vacation on Fiji, one of the Polynesian islands, and the south island of New Zealand; play golf at Augusta
Associations: Association of Clinical Data Management, UK; Society for Clinical Data Management, US
Social Media:
Tweet at:  @swspow

The improvement of patient data quality has been at the heart of everything Steve Powell has accomplished in his 25-plus years in the pharmaceutical development industry.

During his career, he has held leadership roles at several global CROs, and has driven numerous significant improvements in clinical trial operations.

From working with early technology adopters to proven leaders, Mr. Powell has leveraged his innovative ability to engage people to drive their understanding of how the better use of data can improve both study performance and patient safety.

Mr. Powell’s contributions include driving adoption of the first wave of eClinical technologies; designing, developing, and investing in data integration and presentation portals for major organizations; and re-imagining direct-from-patient data collection and processes for the newest generation of smartphones and devices. His focus on simplifying technology implementation to ensure all stakeholders understand its applications and benefits have led to his many successes in improving patient data quality.

One of his most notable achievements was growing and managing a successful data group at PRA and being part of the wider executive team that managed the overall company to such success.

While at PRA, he worked hard to influence internal perceptions that if you deliver data access and aggregation solutions for clients, then it will lead to improved trial performance, risk mitigation, and regulatory success.

While as executive VP of trial oversight at ERT, Mr. Powell led efforts to transform the market in terms of innovative technology development to improve the clinical trial process. He is focused on providing study teams a single source of truth regarding all aspects of trial performance. Through this he hopes to deliver clarity across complex clinical landscapes, provide real-time visibility into trial progress, and drive more effective collaboration between sponsors, CROs, and sites.

In addition, he is driven by the vision of one day enabling all data to be collected directly from patients, eliminating the need for others to input data on their behalf, and removing ambiguity around the data. He believes being able to achieve these goals would enable patients to be more interactive with their own data and more successful in trial participation.

For Mr. Powell, it’s all about the desire to progress healthcare opportunities for all however distant an individual is from the treatment room.

Mr. Powell says he has always looked at innovation as improving processes and information every day, rather than heeding a call to innovate without purpose.

“I have pushed the boundaries at most of my companies around thinking and acting differently and to look for the opportunities to improve a process or technology that provides a better end result or customer experience,” he says.

He believes the catalyst of innovation is creating an environment of trust where people don’t fear failure or the ability to speak up and voice opinions.

Mr. Powell started out in the industry as an entry-level data manager at Brookwood Statistics in a tin-roofed shed in Battle, near Hastings in the United Kingdom.

“I had no idea what the job was when I took it, but I met people there who would shape my career for many years to come, which have led to the amazing opportunities I have today,” he says.

Brookwood later became part of Quintiles, and it was at Brookwood that Mr. Powell met his most influential mentor, the late Anne Wiles, the company founder, who pushed him to take on new situations and ideas and helped guide him through both difficult and successful times.

He says he would like to be remembered as the “Innovative Data Guy” who was willing to try new ideas and take the risks needed to move the industry forward using the best data.

He inspires others by always being himself and encouraging others to do the same and creating an environment to take managed risks. He treats failure not as a negative outcome but a learning tool to do it better the next time. Ultimately, it is those who hold the data who win. (PV)

Editor’s Note: As of press time, Steve Powell left ERT to become the new CEO of SynteractHCR.

Joe Abdalla
Power to the Patient

Title: Division President, TC Market Access
Company: TrialCard Inc.
Education: BS, Pharmacy, University of North Carolina; MBA, Campbell University
Family: Wife of 27 years, Sonya; sons Noah, 19; Hunter, 19; and Garrett, 16
Hobbies: Spectating his son’s baseball
Bucket List: Learn to enjoy the game of golf with his three sons to have his own family foursome; continue annual family vacations as his sons establish families
Awards/Honors: PharmaVOICE 100, 2017; multiple President’s Clubs and Leading Change Awards, GlasxoSmithKline; Community Service Recognition, coaching youth sports; board memberships with local youth baseball and high school sports association; and Church Men’s Retreat Program
Associations: UNC School of Pharmacy Board of Visitors
Social Media:
Tweet at: @JosephTAbdalla

Tirelessly focused on the mission at hand, Joe Abdalla believes intrinsically that technology can improve the overall patient experience as well as increase patients’ commitment to and engagement in their own health journey.

Charged with building TrialCard’s market access division — a suite of patient access and support services — Mr. Abdalla is focused on making life better for everyone across the continuum of care: patients, caregivers, providers, pharmacies, and manufacturers.

Mr. Abdalla came to TrialCard in 2014 with vast experience in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. He previously held a variety of sales, marketing, and executive leadership positions with concentrated focus on commercial, profit and loss management, merger and acquisition activities, and overall general management.

His extensive experience within the healthcare industry has shaped his long-standing belief that traditional and cookie-cutter market access solutions fall short of delivering optimal patient and provider experiences.

Under Mr. Abdalla’s leadership, TrialCard has developed and launched several new technology-based solutions to address key market unmet or unsatisfied needs. These include QuickPath Case Management System designed to expedite access and reimbursement; EngagePath Patient Communication Platform; and enhancements in the Cost Sharing Assistance Medical Benefit Solution.

Patients are a top priority for Mr. Abdalla, who believes that providing patients with access to the medication they need is an important first step toward achieving successful outcomes. And that giving patients the support they need to be engaged, adherent, and successful throughout their entire course of therapy is where the real work begins.

From the day he started at TrialCard, he stressed that the patient must always be at the center of everything the company does, and that cultural dynamic has been one of the largest drivers of TrialCard’s success.

One of Mr. Abdalla’s first moves upon joining TrialCard was to bring on a RN-licensed director of clinical services to build a team of healthcare professionals charged with engaging, educating, and empowering patients. He also established a concierge support service and brought in reimbursement case managers who  help  patients access their medication at the lowest possible cost. These programs increase fill rates and speed to therapy and give patients and their caregivers the comfort of having a single point of contact to coordinate with providers and payers.

A lot of what he is able to impart today he leverages his pharma industry experience and his first job on the pharma services side, which provided an opportunity to manage all aspects of the company’s performance.

His unique approach recognizes that today’s value-based healthcare landscape is forcing manufacturers to re-define what a successful HUB program delivers and that to achieve long-term success, programs need to combine technical agility, a holistic approach to supporting patients, and qualified patient care coordinators, and be customized to the patient/caregiver, product and disease state.

Mr. Abdalla thrives on helping business units and companies perform at high levels while creating opportunities for employees and helping support patient care.

He measures success by how he feels about what he does and who he works for, the impact his work has on others, and in meeting financial and management performance objectives.

To help TrialCard continue to succeed, Mr. Abdalla is focused on finding smart people who have the right DNA, passion, energy, and focus on innovation and customer service. For his part, he encourages and empowers his teams to think and act creatively. He believes innovation is made possible by strategic planning, proper benchmarking, precise financial and human resource allocation, and a willingness to experiment. At the same time, he adds that too many companies are reactive, stuck in their ways, and sacrifice the future and innovation for the immediate day-to-day fire drills.

He is committed to fostering an environment that rewards the supporting of patients while promoting continuous professional growth. He has established detailed training curriculums, where personnel undergo extensive training in drug coverage, billing, reimbursement, prior authorization and appeals, and adverse event, product complaint, and medical inquiry handling, as well as product and disease-state knowledge.

Mr. Abdalla would like to be remembered as someone who led by example; was a good subordinate, colleague, or supervisor who helped people grow and develop; and who delivered successfully for the organization. (PV)

Julie Iskow
Technology Crusader

Title: Chief Technology Officer
Company: Medidata Solutions
Education: BS, UC Berkeley; MS, UC Davis
Family: Husband and two daughters
Hobbies: Playing piano,  saxophone, tennis, cycling and golf
Bucket List: Become a data scientist
Awards/Honors: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Luminary, 2017; InformationWeek’s Elite 100 and shortlisted for the Cloud Awards’ Best Enterprise-Level SaaS Product, 2016; Informa’s Clinical Awareness & Research Excellence (CARE) Award for Clinical Partnership of the Year, Medidata and GSK, 2016
Social Media:
Tweet at: @JulieIskow

Somewhere, in a parallel universe, Julie Iskow is a data scientist. “I actually have analytics envy,” she jokes. “It’s not just that I love numbers — it’s that so much of our progress in the world will be dependent on the scientific insights that we gain from data.”

To extract such meaningful insights, life-sciences organizations need the right tools and technology to collect high-quality data for analysis in the first place. Ms. Iskow and her team of clinical technology crusaders are tirelessly working to fulfill this objective.

As executive VP of product development and chief technology officer at Medidata, Ms. Iskow is responsible for the vision and direction of the company’s technolgy strategy. She leads the teams that design, develop, deliver, and support the company’s client-facing products, technology infrastructure, and enterprise applications. She is also responsible for overseeing the architecture to help Medidata’s customers and partners accelerate hope for patients.

Her transformational leadership, technological insight, and steadfast dedication to improving healthcare is helping Medidata combine cutting-edge tools and important data to help solve challenging problems for life-sciences companies. And at a time when clinical trial complexity and spending are at an all-time high, the importance of Ms. Iskow’s role has never been more central to the industry achieving its goals of improving patients’ lives.

A strong proponent of leveraging technology to solve business challenges across industries, Ms. Iskow has more than 20 years of experience in IT, initially focused in the high-tech manufacturing sector before finding her way into the healthcare space.

Immediately preceding her role at Medidata, Ms. Iskow spent nearly a decade at WageWorks — a consumer-directed healthcare software company — where she led the technology organization and initiatives including new product development, platform re-architecture and transformation, consolidating and enhancing product portfolios, and migrating customers onto new systems.

With an extensive background and experience in designing and developing cloud and SaaS applications, and with a focus on high-quality UX and UI, colleagues say she hit the ground running upon arriving at Medidata in April 2015. Since she joined the company, Ms. Iskow’s teams have grown by 37%.

Ms. Iskow describes herself as hopeful, saying it’s impossible to be anything but when Medidata is solving industry challenges through new tools, data, and tech to accelerate hope for patients.  She says she is motivated by what Medidata is doing to impact lives.

While Ms. Iskow’s role doesn’t give her any spare time to delve further into the interdisciplinary field of data science, her thirst for knowledge and her self-motivation to enrich her already tech-savvy acumen remain strong.

“Today, I don’t design the actual algorithms that go into Medidata’s machine-learning and artificial intelligence tools, but it’s on my bucket list of things to do, because insights derived from data can be impactful for the most important customer of all: the patient,” she says.

Based on Medidata’s partnerships with key customers and the company’s vision for transforming clinical trials, the Medidata platform has been honored with multiple industry accolades since Ms. Iskow has been leading the technology organization. In addition, she was named a 2017 Luminary by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA).

Despite all these feats, Ms. Iskow remains humble, attributing the successes to her team. As a leader, she understands the importance of collaboration in achieving innovation.

She regularly brings together her teams to ensure Medidata’s platform and applications are developed with quality and care as they work together to meet the company’s mission of powering smarter treatments for healthier people. (PV)

Eric Delente
Hitting a High Note for Patient Consent

Title: President, Patient Solutions
Company: DrugDev Inc.
Education: BA, Webster University; MM, Manhattan School of Music
Family: Wife, Carrie; children, Christophe and Nicole; parents, Jacques and Gail
Hobbies: Cycling, sailing
Bucket List: Sail across the Atlantic; bike across the United States
Associations: DIA
Social Media:

Eager to put “informed” back into “informed consent,” Eric Delente hopes he is remembered as one of the people who helped move clinical research toward tangible patient-centricity.

Mr. Delente’s storied career has taken him from making music with hit makers, including arranging string parts and playing with Lenny Kravitz on his first three records, to innovating award-winning education portals, to creating the first mobile app for patients navigating the informed consent process.

He designed and developed award-winning educational portals and back-office tools for healthcare and science organizations such as the New York Academy of Sciences, Wolters Kluwer, Elsevier, and several top 20 pharmaceutical companies. He gained expertise in patient education for healthcare with a proprietary learning management system. He realized informed consent was a huge hurdle for potential patient volunteers to cross, and he wanted to do something about it.

As president of the patient solutions business unit at DrugDev, which is highlighted by the industry’s definitive eConsent solution he pioneered, Mr. Delente is working to ensure patients are presented with information in a way that makes it easier for them to understand.

When patients consider volunteering for a clinical study, regulators require that they be given adequate information to make an informed decision. But Mr. Delente recognized that paper consent forms were often weighty documents that few patients could understand.

He knew the industry had to do a better job informing patients of exactly what participation in a clinical trial meant to stem the 35% dropout rate of patients who felt the consent document was too difficult to navigate. He recognized the potential of using familiar tools such as tablets and multimedia to give patient volunteers easy to consume information.

Together with Dr. Susan Brink, Mr. Delente founded SecureConsent, which led to the development of the mobile app eConsent. The app tracks the patient review process so physicians and coordinators can identify where patients are having trouble in the informed consent document thereby facilitating meaningful conversations.

The app incorporates combinations of video and audio narration, features illustrated pop-up glossary terms, organizes ideas in digestible chunks, enables patients to highlight areas they have questions about for discussions with sites, and provides opportunities for interactive quizzes to reinforce ideas and test for comprehension along the way. It can be easily adapted for patients with hearing or vision challenges, children, language differences, or other special needs.

In November 2016, he and co-founder Dr. Brink agreed to become part of DrugDev. Mr. Delente led the eConsent app from an interesting idea toward widespread adoption over one year, enabling the company to quadruple revenue.

Mr. Delente knows that inspiration takes a lot of hard work. He seeks to inspire by recognizing the importance of everyone on the team; helping others to stay focused on the next step without losing sight of important milestones; listening fully and helping to identify and pursue a solution; maintaining enthusiasm; empowering others yet getting involved when appropriate; ensuring viable options have been considered and tested; staying calm, pointing to positive outcomes, and never dwelling on mistakes. Finally, Mr. Delente says it’s vital to acknowledge that no one is perfect, “especially me.”

“I think innovation is a collective effort, so my goal is to empower, inspire, and recognize achievements toward innovation by those around me, at all levels, and to break down perceived barriers,” he says. “It’s critical to recognize the collective nature of innovation and that even small innovations are important.”

For Mr. Delente leadership is the support and empowerment of those around you toward reaching a collective goal.
He is a visionary whose ideas are put into practice by sponsors, CROs, sites and patients in clinical trials every day. (PV)

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