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Virtual trial platform expected to be game-changer

Monday, December 14, 2015

Everbridge, based in Boston and Los Angeles, and London-based hVIVO are teaming up on a next-generation virtual clinical-trial platform that potentially could transform the trial experience for volunteers.

The two companies plan to introduce the platform in phases, starting with a volunteer communication platform in early 2016 and followed by a full technology suite later in the year. Everbridge is a global provider of Software as a Service (SaaS)-based unified critical communications solutions and hVIVO is a pioneer of human disease models.

Officials from both organizations said the new offering will leverage secure clinical collaboration and telemedicine solutions from Everbridge to change volunteers’ trial experience from a spotty notification process to an interactive, self-service, community-based environment. The companies’ partnership, they added, will provide access to personalized communications, secure dialogue and remote data sharing between clinicians and volunteers, which should help to streamline clinical trials and improve operational efficiencies.

“Clinical trial patients of hVIVO’s will now be able to utilize Everbridge’s clinical communications application, HipaaBridge, to communicate via secure text messages and video,” Everbridge CTO Imad Mouline told CWWeekly. “This improves their experience, as it provides more opportunities to interact with a clinician over the course of the trial.”

Nick Hawkins, managing director of Everbridge EMEA, added, “hVIVO is a true pioneer in this space, as they provide a technology platform of human disease models that accelerates drug development and discovery. Just as importantly, though, they have already conducted over 40 clinical studies, involving more than 2,000 volunteers, so they have extensive experience in clinical trial recruitment, and are a natural fit to leverage our clinical communication and telemedicine solutions to take the trial patient experience to the next level of engagement, relationship, value proposition and efficiency.”

“Timely enrollment of the right subject is paramount for delivering today’s game-changing drugs on schedule,” Kym Denny, hVIVO’s chief executive officer, said when the deal was announced. “hVIVO and Everbridge’s virtual clinical trial platform is designed to provide flexible study options for sponsors and an interactive volunteer experience, which can help improve efficiencies and bring innovative therapies to market more quickly, creating a win-win scenario for sponsors, volunteers and ultimately the patients.”

Drug development is still a lengthy, costly process—with trials sometimes taking up to 10 or 20 years—and trial recruitment activities play a key role in defining the time to market. According to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (CSDD), study timelines often are extended to twice their intended duration so enrollment levels can be met. Nevertheless, 48% of trials still fail to meet their recruitment targets.

The new, Web-based clinical trial and volunteer communication platform is designed to assist in maximizing the engagement, retention and growth of volunteers enrolled for clinical trials via continuous 360-degree information collection and exchange through secure mobile and video communications. It promotes ongoing dialogue with volunteers, stimulating volunteer recruitment and avoiding trial delays.

Virtual recruitment and engagement for clinical trial patients go hand in hand with the increasing adoption of mobile health tools by consumers and healthcare professionals.

Forrester Research’s November report “Predictions 2016: The Empowered Patient” noted that mobile and wearables “drive new patient interactions and new data” and went on to say, “Smartphone adoption is at an all-time high for more than just millennials. More than half of consumers have used their smartphones to get health information.”

Wayne Kubick, a systems solutions professional and former chief technology officer at the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC), said he sees the tech trend—including the hVIVO/Everbridge platform—as a positive one.

“I am very much in favor of any activity that makes it easier for patients to participate in clinical trials, and the industry desperately needs better ways to recruit eligible patients more rapidly,” he told CWWeekly. “Virtual clinical trials have the great promise of taking the trial more to the patient rather than forcing a visit to an investigator—which, in some cases, is unduly burdensome to patients.

“Virtual clinical trials have many technological components for collecting data and providing more feedback to patients, through mHealth, sensor technologies and broader interactivity with the research community. There’s plenty to build off there, but there are many other potential benefits to be gained by making better use of healthcare-related data for research purposes.”

Strategic marketing consultant Sheila Rocchio, former vice president of marketing and strategy at PHT—which was acquired by ERT in May—voiced similar sentiments.
“There are many new tools available for collecting data from patients in clinical research but the challenge is less about collecting the data and more about what to do with the incredible volume of physiological data that is now available,” she said. “I’d like to see sponsors, researchers and regulators work together to develop new and better measures and endpoints that rely on those now-accessible data streams.

“This collaboration builds on a trend across clinical research to modernize the clinical trial recruitment and participation process. If hVIVO can leverage the Everbridge platform to provide trial volunteers with secure multimedia messaging, community, telemedicine options, real-time communication and access to their own experience data, it will serve as a competitive advantage. This should benefit patients volunteering in hVIVO trials, as it will provide them with a more convenient trial experience as well as an ongoing communication channel to learn more about the new therapy they are helping to develop and its possible impacts on their health.” 


This article was reprinted from Volume 19, Issue 49, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »

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