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ERT and Orbita collaborate to improve patient retention and trial efficiency

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mobile health applications have transformed the way many people approach their health. Applications can now track food and nutrition intake, activity levels and even sleep habits. Similar health applications have also permeated clinical research; in fact, there has been an increased demand for and utilization of mobile health applications for data capture during clinical trials. This form of data capture is aimed at streamlining the data procurement process, ultimately improving the time in which results from a trial can be analyzed and interpreted.

Using ERT’s EXPERT technology platform, ERT and Orbita recently announced their collaboration to study new electronic approaches to clinical trial data acquirement. ERT, a leader in clinical trial technology, has been continually involved in bringing innovative technologies into clinical trials.

Orbita is also on the forefront when it comes to electronic data capturing. The company’s Orbita Voice, which uses voice agents from Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, can quickly acquire health data on a patient with just a few spoken words. Its integrated health applications and previously recorded patient-specific data is designed to streamline the process and improve overall patient care.

Investigators are already using Orbita Voice in clinical trials to create interactive surveys for patients, negating the use of paper or electronic surveys that rely on manual entry. This technology features analytics which can track user engagement, thus improving data capture methodology for future clinical trials.

In combination with ERT’s EXPERT technology platform, both companies hope to create automated processes within a clinical trial that will enable efficient utilization and interpretation of patient data. The hope is that the technology will also enable patients to review and manage their care tasks using only their voice, thereby providing a more interactive approach.

This solution will also facilitate an efficient “movement-forward” approach, which will enable pharmaceutical and device manufacturers to provide therapy to patients sooner, ultimately improving care on all fronts.

Parks Associates, a market research firm specialized in consumer technology, believes this collaboration can provide multiple advantages to patients, healthcare providers and clinical trial coordinators. “Voice-based user interface (UI) innovations have huge implications for the healthcare industry, particularly in areas where patient participation, interaction and engagement is critical to the market success of digital health solutions and services,” said Harry Wang, senior director of research at Parks Associates. Wang added, “This collaboration between Orbita and ERT is a clear example of voice recognition technology’s potential in healthcare, and we expect many more use cases that incorporate voice UI to emerge.”

Karin Beckstrom, senior project manager of ERT, notes that there are other key advantages that make this technology valuable for the industry. Patients with physical limitations, for example, may benefit from voice-related technology. Instead of having to manually enter or write down answers, which may prove difficult, they simply need to vocalize their responses and the interface will enter the data.

Beckstrom also cited the interactive component as a major benefit: “Additionally, the interactive nature of Amazon Echo or Google Home makes the experience feel more personal and connected. Voice-first tools leverage natural language and provide an interactive experience. Our testing has shown that clinical trial patients begin to treat Amazon’s Alexa like she is part of the trial team. ‘She’ can readily answer questions or provide instructions whenever they are needed.”

Undoubtedly, voice technology provides a level of “connection” and interaction that a voiceless screen can’t offer. The goal of this collaboration is to learn how devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home can support clinical trials while enhancing patient participation and engagement, Beckstrom commented. “In our proof-of-concept project, we showcase three areas where voice can engage, assist and collect data from clinical trial patients: collecting answers to questionnaires, providing instructions to collect vital statistics (such as blood pressure) and providing answers to FAQs,” according to Beckstrom.

Nathan Treloar, cofounder and president of Orbita, believes this technology to be a game-changer in patient-centricity and patient retention. “The future holds great promise for intelligent virtual assistants to play increasingly important roles in bringing pharmaceuticals and devices to market,” said Treloar. He added, “Even in their infancy, these solutions show great potential for leveraging artificial intelligence to make clinical trial participation easier and more connected for the patient. Using voice artificial intelligence to provide 24/7 support and generate a sense of companionship throughout the patient journey brings real value to trial participants.”

The use of voice technology in trials has been well received by the pharmaceutical industry. “Pharmaceutical companies are very interested in learning how this new technology…can create an easier and more connected experience for their clinical trial participants,” Beckstrom comments. “Trial sponsors can have greater confidence that they’ll be able to foster strong compliance and persistence among trial participants, which enables them to keep trials moving ahead.” 


This article was reprinted from Volume 21, Issue 22, 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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