Three Questions: Matt Kibby, BBK Worldwide
CWWeekly presents this biweekly feature as a spotlight on issues that executives in clinical research face. This week, writer Sony Salzman spoke with Matt Kibby, president of BBK Worldwide. Matt leads BBK’s technology group, which develops and integrates the company’s patient recruitment data systems to optimize studies for sponsors and CROs globally.
Q: How can mobile apps improve the patient experience in clinical research?
A: Today, mHealth is more widely recognized for its role in bridging big data gaps across clinical research, and wearables are collecting much-needed data in real-time—to the benefit of many, and long after approved treatments are commercially available.
Apps are being utilized to monitor and collect important symptom and care-related data, improve physician-patient communications, send study appointment reminders, deliver travel support and share critically important study information. The goal is to greatly improve the patient’s experience and remove some of the logistics-related work that often comes with participation. Why not streamline study-related communications in this way? It serves the patient well and has the potential to positively impact the study timeline, and ultimately the science.
As we move forward, and to support patients as comprehensively as we can, developers must understand them (and their condition) long before the work begins—from concept to feature planning and development to user interface design. A successful app will consider these things and look beyond basic utility. We must understand the challenges facing sites and patients, develop appropriate solutions to address those challenges and then continue to refine and evolve those solutions to be better over time. Mobile apps are a constant work in progress.
Q: You define “stickiness” as patients’ willingness to continuously use a mobile application. What are some of the key design elements in creating “stickiness?”
A: When thinking about “stickiness,” you need to keep in mind the three “Cs:” Creativity, Content and Continuous engagement.
Key to any successful app design is a sophisticated yet easy-to-use interface that creates a smooth, pleasing user experience. For your user experience to be successful, you must listen to your users and adapt. This can be accomplished by analyzing user data patterns or executing more traditional methods such as focus groups or asking for their input directly.
Content can and should come in a variety of forms. It can be original and non-dynamic (developed by you; e.g., written articles or information); original dynamic content (changes based on responses to inputs; e.g., games, polling, etc.); and third party (sourced from other references from the web, both dynamic and non-dynamic). Regardless of type, the key is to ensure that it is relevant, interesting and engaging.
Last but not least, you must aim to maintain continuous engagement. To succeed, you’ll want to map out the milestones a user would hit during their participation and determine the consumption patterns of your users aligned with the content you’ve developed.
Q: You said recently that apps are just the beginning. What is the next step in the evolution of mHealth in clinical research?
A: Like any technological shift, in any industry, there is a natural progression from concept to wide-spread adoption—a series of pushes and pulls, connected to technology advances and affordability and market and user readiness. Technological advances in any industry are always met with some resistance. Early adopters pave the way for the rest of us, and as we enter this next phase of mobile health innovation in clinical trials, we do so with a better understanding about what works and what doesn’t. You can’t overcome adoption barriers without first understanding them. As an industry, I think we’re doing a better job understanding what patients need and what they don’t, and how to maximize benefits for sites interested in utilizing apps.
I believe we’ve made great progress in educating the market about the power of mHealth in clinical trials, and we’ve seen some really big successes as a result, but there is still much work to do to ensure that mHealth apps aren’t implemented in silos or viewed as a standalone solution for a single study. Mobile technology has matured greatly and will continue to positively impact the site’s ability to maximize study efficiencies and patient-related communications, as much as it will continue to improve the patient’s experience and care.
What’s more, apps must continue to support caregivers, who play an incredibly important role in a patient’s study participation.
This article was reprinted from Volume 21, Issue 11, of CWWeekly, a leading clinical research industry newsletter providing expanded analysis on breaking news, study leads, trial results and more. Subscribe »