Opportunities for eCOA Digital Engagement

Posted: July 21, 2016 | By: Mark Gehman


Since the dawn of commerce, business has sought out new and interesting ways to engage with customers. Soothing music, misting scents, attractive colors, and personal shoppers are all concepts created by the retail industry to enhance the consumer experience and maximize profits.

Amazon and other eCommerce firms have carried this concept to the digital world, by providing easy to use, personalized shopping experiences online. The most recent retail numbers tell this story… “Amazon generates 60% of all US online sales growth”, while “GAP revenue shrinks as same store sales disappoint. On the other hand “JCP seeks turnaround with online strategy”

As other industries take notice of the accretive value of engagement – they too are looking to increase customer experience and kick start revenue growth. To realize this opportunity, many forward leaning firms are stepping away from traditional playbooks to utilize new digital toolkits. For example:

  • Education is using personalization to provide easy access to classes that are aligned to current student interest and deliver the highest long term potential.

  • Legal firms are scrutinizing prospect browser behavior to present services and attorneys that are most relevant to the needs of their potential clients.

  • Restaurants are advertising on mobile apps that personalize their menu based on the proximity and tastes of hungry guests.

  • Politicians are winning elections by mining mountains of registration and survey data to focus on demographically viable constituents.

  • News agencies are tailoring feeds based not only on interest and usage of readers but also on their friends and social networks.

  • Flower companies are provisioning digital bot services that interact with customers by answering questions and tendering orders – all by speech.

  • Banking ATM’s remember customers most used activities and provide suggestions to make transactions as fast and efficient as possible.

  • Luxury auto manufacturers are prototyping the “limousine of the future” that senses passenger emotions and responds with customized interior ambiance and drivability –without a chauffeur.

And the list goes on..

“Patient voice” using an eSourcing framework has been mentioned by most every clinical practitioner as a key contributor to long term trial success. However, based on Oracle Health Science’s eSource Industry Survey, most trials are still delivered on paper with heavy manual intervention. So what does “Patient Voice” actually mean in this new digital age?

Below are a few thoughts on how the eCOA industry could leap into the digital age and truly make a difference in the lives of the patients and investigators that we serve.

We are more mobile than ever and the trend is accelerating..

US mobile customers more than doubled their data usage last year according to the CTIA wireless industry trade group's annual survey released Monday, May 23, 2016.

Annual wireless data usage jumped from 4.6 trillion megabytes in 2014 to 9.65 trillion megabytes in 2015. That's the equivalent of more than 400 million 2GB movie downloads each month last year. Americans spent 17 percent more time on voice calls last year, reaching 2.88 trillion minutes on their mobile phones. They sent 44 percent more multimedia messages -- likely cat photos -- for a total of 218.5 billion. Meanwhile, plain old texting dropped by 1.5 percent to 1.89 trillion messages.

Activating engagement through notifications

As the data above indicate, the mobile phone has become a vital appendage to our modern lifestyle. Receiving notifications via test messages is a simple way to gently nudge patients to complete an eCOA form. This keeps the trial on track with little impact to the patient. A generic “it is time for your diary entry” message may be effective, but what if this message was personalized based on patient preference and profile?

For example – consider a video clip of a health professional digitally created based on the presumptions and expectations of the patient to most effectively convert the request into a meaningful response. This approach would greatly increase relevance to the patient and could lead to much higher engagement, retention and data quality.

Converting requests into quality responses when completing diaries

Completing diaries and forms in a vacuum is not overly inspiring and could lead to confusion and low data quality. What if patients could engage with a Mobile ChatBot that poses validated instruments and provides advice to those unable to grasp the nuance of a question? All while communicating in a voice and tone that highly correlates to the expectations of the patient. If a patient is elderly, they may seek guidance in an older male authority figure. If a younger female is participating in a trial, she may wish to talk to a knowledgeable woman with a like mind.

Greasing the skids of ePRO questions

The legal and engineering industries are using VR to help win cases and visualize new products. Clinical trials could benefit from a virtual reality app that allows patients to specifically point to areas of pain and indicate intensity - on their own bodies! This approach could not only increase the quality of information provided, but also actually promote patient engagement by providing a seamless response system.

And finally, consider the possibilities of using Microsoft's Magic Mirror that recognizes and signs in patients with facial recognition, determines emotional state, asks diary questions, and safely stores this information for further analysis – all while a patient brushes their teeth. Stay tuned for more on this concept in the next post.

We all strive to find innovative ways to help clinicians successfully complete trials as economically and effectively as possible while providing a high degree of quality data. A Digital Patient Engagement mindset and toolkit could be the answer to delivering on the promise of Patient Voice in eCOA.


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