Imagine you are diagnosed with cancer. You receive all of the available treatments yet your cancer remains unaffected.

With new hope, you find a promising clinical study in a neighboring state and you undergo several tests to evaluate if you can qualify over multiple weeks. After hours of blood tests, and complex clinical explanations by your care team, you finally arrive home wishing for extra support. By the time you qualify for the drug, you are exhausted and fail to ask the right questions when you are with your doctor. The guidelines of your clinical study are packed with medical jargon that you don’t understand. The participant burden in clinical studies is high. In fact, only 5% of participants join clinical studies, and of those that enroll 30% drop out.

The goal to develop novel drugs and to enhance cancer research seems to be doing the exact opposite. That is why we created Root Health – to empower participants with empathetic support to ease the burden of clinical studies. Root is a virtual clinical study assistant that cares for participants and answers their numerous questions in a simple way – even in the middle of the night when they are scared and alone. Through action-oriented smart messaging, Root assists participants in following their clinical study protocols; it captures participant-reported outcomes, schedules their appointments, and helps arrange transportation to clinical studies. Root even rewards participants for following through with their protocols. More importantly, Root builds a relationship with each participant and helps them feel cared for in the most vulnerable time of their lives.

In 2018, 1.7 Million people were diagnosed with cancer for the first time. Concurrently, ten thousand studies will recruit thousands of participants to create potential lifesaving cancer drugs. However, 85% of clinical studies fail to retain enough participants. For pharmaceutical companies, drug development that overruns its timeline can result in up to $8M lost revenue per day. More importantly, delays in drug development can prevent life-saving therapeutics from ever making it to market. 

Tomorrow, the Root Assistant will be able to expand globally and be localized through language and culture. It will capture new sources of participant data like participant emotional well-being, food-drug interaction, and capture participant interactions with medications outside the clinic setting. It will also support adaptive clinical trials and improve the likelihood of success. In an ever-evolving technology landscape, Root will serve as a fluid conversational interaction from the patient’s home to their car. 

In an industry driven by data and measurement, the impact we gauge first is on participant lives. Participants are the heart of medical research. Their tissue, their blood, their genes are used for medical research not for themselves but for generations to come. At Root Health, we want to honor their participation and willingness to help appropriately. 

By Raj Sharma

Originally published: https://healthitpittsburgh.com/putting-the-patient-first-in-clinical-trials/