'Technology & Innovation in Quality: A Brave New World?' was the title of the conference held by the RQA, GQMA and SOFAQ in Dublin, with a focus on established QA topics as well as new technical and regulatory aspects.
The Convention Center Dublin offered a modern and appropriate location for such a high number of delegates. The opener of the event by the well-known UK physician, journalist and comedian Phil Hammond made for a very entertaining start, in particular punchlines and suggestions such as 'Do not eat anything you see in an advert' or 'CLANGERS' named after an old BBC series (connect, learn, (be) active, notice, give back, eat well, relax, sleep). Jokes around Brexit and the British healthcare system went down well, too.
After the opening session, GSK's Lindsay Edwards provided insights into the basics, opportunities, and rapid developments in the usage of artificial intelligence in the healthcare industry.
Technologically almost seamlessly, this was followed by Timothé Ménard from Roche with his talk on the application of 'Advanced Analytics' in the field of clinical research. Given that a large number of delegates are directly or indirectly involved in clinical research topics, they were able to take away some ideas for further development as well as being able to transfer knowledge to other use cases.
The presentations were then divided into three subject areas: PV/GCP, Medical Devices and Animal Health.
The presentation “An MHRA Perspective on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence” was particularly interesting in terms of the use of new technologies. Phil Tregunno of MHRA provided food for thought and good points for further discussion on the new challenges from the point of view of a regulatory authority, including inspectors.
The next day was also divided into three streams: GCP, GLP and Computing / IT. In the latter subject area, Ingo Baumann, Partner at Thescon, presented on 'Self-driving cars take ethical decisions - let's talk about AI in healthcare'. He considered the challenges in the use of artificial intelligence with reference to the current situation regarding autonomous driving vehicles and proposed approaches for respective validation strategies, building on the basics presented at the lecture on the previous day.
Barry McManus of Empowerment Quality Engineering Ltd. presented as (in his own words) 'reformed techie' on the use of risk management strategy as a link between IT and quality assurance – a surprisingly entertaining presentation, but serious in terms of subject matter He agreed with the use of risk-based approaches and the increased use of 'critical thinking' propagated through many lectures (and apparently still not practised everywhere).
Another contribution to the debates around Artificial Intelligence was provided by Ignacio Hernandez Medrano from Spain. He focused more on justifying the application of appropriate technologies than on the risks involved and their control. He claimed that artificial intelligence didn’t have to deliver perfect results, but was seen to be simply the best alternative for many applications, which provided another interesting perspective in addition to the other presentations on this topic.
After two tightly scheduled conference days, the gala dinner in the evening offered an opportunity for continued discussions and important networking in a relaxed atmosphere, and, last but not least, for releasing some energy on the dance floor thanks to a great live band.
At the start of the last day, the Japanese delegation (JSQA) promoted the Global Quality Assurance Conference in Sendai. The delegation showed much enthusiasm (and even performed a short play), which certainly will have generated interest amongst the delegates to travel to Japan in February 2020.
The outcomes were then summarized through panel discussions, and the delegates’ respect for the upcoming changes and challenges was evident. However, there was also much hope expressed for the new possibilities that lie ahead.