“We want to lead the industry in putting patients and the patient experience at the centre of the clinical research industry.”
Including his six years at mdgroup, our CEO Tarquin Scadding-Hunt has more than 20 years’ experience in the pharma industry and has overseen many exciting developments in the business.
Passionate about making sure we do everything at mdgroup with compassion and kindness – inside and outside the business – Tarquin shares with us his vision for the company, what makes mdgroup different, and how he’s supporting us to create remarkable patient experiences.
Tarquin, you’ve been with mdgroup for more than six years and a lot has changed during that time. Can you start by telling us more about your journey with the company?
I started my career in life sciences more than twenty years ago, when I joined Parexel and worked as the Global Project Manager and then Global Account Manager for the biggest pharma company in the world. Then, after a stint working for myself in the pharma events industry, I joined mdgroup.
I was given the freedom and responsibility to experiment with evolving the patient services side of the business, as I saw a huge opportunity in growing our expertise to do more and expand our range of services.
When I joined the business, we outsourced a lot of our support services: from patient travel to our concierge service technology platform, from which we managed our personalised patient communications, interactions and services. Over time, we skilled-up and made strategic hires (we even employed everyone from our old outsourced travel team at one stage), brought services in-house and have developed our own technology platform Primarius. We have invested strategically in our people and our expertise, to the point where we now have around 30 people on our technology development team alone.
From our humble beginnings, the original business is now less than 1% of the company. We have become known for our digital and patient health services, (including our addition of home health over a year ago) and established ourselves as a leading global provider of personalised clinical study services. Which brings me to where we are today and the excitement of what we have up our sleeve for 2021, and of course that’s top secret!
What is your current role and your key responsibilities at mdgroup?
As Chief Executive Officer, I have the unique opportunity to lead this fantastic company, creating and implementing our strategic plans to help pharmaceutical and biotech clients retain patients, engage investigators and get the clinical trial outcome data they need to be successful.
I look after the relationship between the different areas of the organisation including our board of advisors, clinical technology, finance, and procurement and head up our executive team. I ensure we’re appropriately organised and resourced to consistently deliver industry-leading services and integrated software solutions to help study sponsors avoid costly delays associated with poor patient retention and low investigator and site engagement.
What are you most passionate about, and how do you translate that passion into action at mdgroup?
I am passionate about making sure we do everything with compassion and kindness – inside and outside the business.
Outside the business, this translates into making sure we have personalised contact with people and patients and utilising technology to make what can be stressful and difficult times feel as seamless, efficient and easy as possible.
Inside the business, this translates into respect for family life and the balance between work and home. We also nurture kind and respectful relationships with each other throughout the business.
Compassion and kindness also cascade through our recruitment and new business outreach. If anyone doesn’t behave in a kind and compassionate way in their work, then they’re not for us.
We also ensure that we recruit from diverse backgrounds and represent society in the fullest way possible.
What do you hope to see evolve within the clinical industry over the next five years, and what is mdgroup’s role in that evolution?
I would really like to see patients and the patient experience put at the centre of the clinical research industry.
Process is vital to ensuring the efficiency and success of clinical trials – of course – but I would love for the people these drugs and therapies are being developed for to be central to those processes. Clinical trial participants shouldn’t be called “subjects” and should always be treated in a respectful, sensitive and understanding way.
I believe the healthcare and pharmaceutical world does ‘see’ the people they are trying to help, but we currently work within a structure that doesn’t have the patient’s personal experience at its core.
When the chips are down, all people want social interaction, especially patients when they’re feeling uncertain or worried. They don’t want technology doing everything. They need someone to help them, and I would love for that to be us.
What makes us truly different is kindness and compassion, and our drive to support patients in the personal and understanding way they need during difficult times.
What impact has COVID-19 had on the way that you operate, and the clinical industry as a whole?
I think it’s probably advanced where the industry was going by about 10 years if I’m honest!
We already had a robust working from home policy, which meant we were ahead of the curve in that respect, but of course, we all missed the day-to-day interaction with each other.
From an operational point of view, we had already launched our home health service in January. This meant we had a robust and successful service up and running which was able to grow to meet demand.
However, the global response to COVID-19 accelerated this service much faster than we originally planned. We were ready though, and have been excited to see it’s development.
On the events side, of course, business has slowed considerably. But even with the slow down in the events, overall we were a lot busier in 2020 than the year before because of the support we had been giving the new home health service.
What makes mdgroup different from other CROs and clinical research agencies?
Everybody would like to say their people, right? For us, it’s no different. Of course, our people make us unique.
The biggest differentiator however is combining our people, who have that personal interaction with patients, with technology. We see our technology as an enabling tool for our personal and personable service. It’s an enabler of what we do, not just what we do. We are a patient services business that uses technology to enhance the patient experience, not a just digital patient services platform.
Nobody else seems to be bringing the breadth of services that we offer together under one roof, and it still feels like we have only just started with what’s possible.
So, I would say what makes us different is the collection of many different services under one roof, being compassionate and personal, as well as pioneering technological development.
We know this combination is unique and we’re really excited about what the future holds for the mdgroup team and the patients and organisations we support.
That leads us very nicely into our last question! What is next for mdgroup in 2021?
We have a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline! One I can tell you about is that we’re investing in our own medical distribution centres in the UK and EU. These centres will house and store our medical equipment. Anything our nurses need, we will be able to get to them quickly.
We are committed to ensuring we supply our teams with the best possible equipment, to ensure both quality of care and effectiveness of the clinical study. Being able to control and monitor this supply chain is the only way we can be assured of quality and efficiency of service every time. If something needs to be distributed at 7 pm for next day delivery, then that’s what we’ll do!
2021 is going to be a very exciting year for mdgroup.