June 01, 2021 + Jessica Di Palo
3 Min read
How can you keep the engagement rate of patients in clinical trials at a high level? Our portfolio company Trialbee has developed a solution for this problem with their patient recruitment and engagement platform. Learn more about the company in our latest blog post.
Patients often get frustrated during their participation in clinical trials. Why? For one it is the long duration of such trials that results as tiresome on one’s attitude, and the slow-moving signs of condition improvement. These factors can cause non-adherence and early drop-outs. Attrition rates can get as high as 30% for late-phase trials and 85% of clinical trials fail to retain enough patients to confirm medical efficacy. We are proud that Trialbee has developed a solid solution to conquer these problems.
We spoke with Lollo Eriksson, Chief Strategy Officer of our Portfolio Company Trialbee about their product, how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their business and how they are going to scale the company in the future.
Jessica Di Palo (JD): ”Hi Lollo. Thanks for making time to sit down for a little chat with us. Let’s dive right in: what’s the difference with other patient recruitment platforms? And what makes your company special?”
Lollo Eriksson (LE): “Trialbee is a promotor of clinical research as one option of care and assist value-based health care organizations to broaden the access to explorative treatment options for the large pool of patients actively engaged in their disease management.
Trialbee’s approach is unique in driving patient diversity, with a wide interpretation, including a broad set of social determinants of health. Sponsors and regulators alike are continuously seeking better solutions to widen diversity in clinical research.
The real differentiator is the way Trialbee target an audience in demand for a clinical trial by using advanced data science techniques and a scalable ecosystem of phenotypic data, other health care related RWD (real world data) combined with consumer data. To turn data into knowledge and practical applications Trialbee applies a set of software’s to protect, match and share health and consumer data and has the ability to enlarge a population by conducting look-a-like modeling specific for a study.
To connect with an audience Trialbee uses a data connectivity platform allowing specific and multi-channel activation to connect, control and engage subjects during the trial journey.
A key differentiator are the multiple steps applied to ensure the candidates are indeed matching as good as possible with a given study before being made available to the sites. This simplifies for sites and makes patients, sites and sponsors satisfied since more candidates will in fact become enrolled in a trial.”
JD: “It is fascinating how Trialbee has developed a digital solution to tackle problems with patient retention and recruiting for clinical trials. Can you explain to us how technology is able to replicate the level of care a patient receives compared to human interaction?”
LE: “Ideally technology should always aim to extend and improve on available capabilities. Replacing human interaction (or any manual process) with an automated option often results in lower customer satisfaction. Therefore, a thoughtful balance between applied technology and service appears to be the best solution. Telemedicine for example extends the outreach of a healthcare professional, enabling him or her to reach a greater number of patients more effectively. Another example may be the use of algorithmic medicine to speed up the time it takes to diagnose a patient and hence free up more time for the healthcare professional, resulting in a greater patient throughput. In both cases technology empowers the healthcare professional without completely replacing him or her. There are of course areas where technology may fully automatize a care process but usually these are linked to repetitive tasks of lower complexity (for example using chatbots to collect basic patient information).
In Trialbee’s case, technology is applied to enable direct integration with Electronic Health Records (in order to minimize site staff workload) and the use of Real World Data in the patient identification and recruitment process (in order to identify a greater number of potential candidates and provide them exploratory treatment as a care option). Other examples include eViewer and eConsent making it much easier to educate and explain a study to patients by using combinations of text, illustrations, videoclips etc. In decentralized studies patients are engaged remotely from an investigational site and technology is used to engage and follow-up on patients through portable devices, various API connections and through telehealth.”
JD: “It is amazing how technology can improve the success of clinical trials in so many ways! Especially in these difficult times. How has Covid-19 affected your business and industry?”
LE: “COVID-19 has disrupted the clinical trial operations with studies initially being cancelled, put on hold or at least significantly delayed. We have since seen a return of activities as the market is catching back up concurrent with the increased demand for support on COVID-19 related research on vaccines and therapeutics. From an operational standpoint, protocols are now increasingly calling for the use of remote consent (eConsent), telehealth and decentralized (virtual) monitoring and data collection. Many protocols are being amended to meet the new standards. We expect this trend to prevail with demand increasing for decentralized and virtual trials. Trialbee is well positioned and resourced to support this operational innovation which will result in a more practical way of conducting clinical trials and ability to reach a broader audience of patients with greater diversity and participation. This of course leads to a more predictable initiation and implementation of studies, more successful trial sites, less study delays and lower development costs.”
JD: “Interesting how COVID-19 had its impact on clinical trials. We’ll see how it will turn out in the future. Talking about future… What is your biggest scaling challenge from your point of view?”
LE: The biggest scaling challenge for Trialbee is to stay focused on and expand access to real time, high quality global real world data (RWD) to be able to provide meaningful and good quality feasibility, identify, qualify and enroll patients in clinical trials and to offer better ways of doing observational research and effectiveness studies. Access to RWD and multi-sourcing of patients accelerates patient recruitment for clinical trials. With a unique set of strategic data partners, Trialbee has recently consolidated RWD access to >350 million patients globally allowing us to deliver predictable intelligence-based patient recruitment and retention support to both traditional and decentralized trials.
JD: We are excited to support you overcoming these challenges! Thank you very much for your time, Lollo!
About Lollo Eriksson
Lollo has a 30-year successful career with Merck & Co., Inc behind him, having joined this company after completing training as a clinical pharmacologist. He has held various leading positions within Merck Research Laboratories (MRL), including clinical pharmacology, clinical research development and clinical research operations across geographies. In addition to this, he has 8 years of executive leadership experience from the global CRO business focusing on study feasibility, study-start-up, patient recruitment and healthcare alliances and acquisitions. He joined Trialbee in early 2018 and acts as Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) to the company.
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