Reify Health, a company that offers cloud-based trial technology, and clinical-trial marketplace provider SubjectWell have announced they are collaborating to develop solutions geared toward improving patient enrollment for clinical research. The partnership will take referrals from SubjectWell’s marketplace and deliver them into Reify’s StudyTeam platform to help manage pre-screening, enrollment, and reporting for trials.
Ralph Passarella, CEO and co-founder of Reify Health, recently discussed with Outsourcing-Pharma details of the partnership, and how improving the patient recruitment and enrollment process can help elevate a study’s overall chances of success.
OSP: Could you please explain how Reify and SubjectWell got together to tackle patient recruitment?
RP: Our partnership with SubjectWell to tackle patient recruitment is a natural fit: we are both deeply committed to solving challenges for two of the biggest stakeholders in clinical research – sites and patients. Before this partnership, we worked with SubjectWell to conduct a site-centric survey in light of the pandemic to understand how sites are updating protocols to better protect patients, including both COVID-19- and non-COVID-19-related clinical trials.
Combining our knowledge of site needs and workflows with SubjectWell’s knowledge of patients allows us to reduce burden for sites, improve handoffs from SubjectWell to the sites, increase randomization rates for sponsors, and, most importantly, improve the overall experience for patients.
OSP: Please share your perspective on the most important/impactful things each of the two parties brings to the table.
RP: At Reify, we not only bring an understanding of sites but a passion for empowering them in the clinical trial ecosystem. SubjectWell brings a knowledge of how to effectively communicate with and engage patients - they’re integral in raising awareness for clinical trial opportunities and providing patients with more choice.
Our respective companies focus on complementary parts of the patient recruitment workflow, and we are both motivated to make the overall process better for patients, sites, and sponsors.
OSP: Also, please take us through the tasks that (though likely necessary) might take away from the attention and care teams need to give patients, and how tech solutions can help improve patient engagement by offloading.
RP: Clinical researchers are responsible for keeping track of patient referrals from various sources, following up with those patients, and providing status updates back to referral partners and sponsors. We as an industry ask research coordinators to do this work along with a laundry list of other tasks that include actually enrolling patients, collecting data at each patient visit, overseeing all the operation aspects of the trial at the site, and caring for each patient throughout.
If we do our job right, we can use technology to automate many of the “back office” activities we ask site staff to do - much of the documentation and information sharing, for example. Through well-designed technology and effective partnerships like the one Reify and SubjectWell have established, we can start to give research coordinators time back in their day to focus on the activities that move trials forward.
OSP: Could you please expand on the ways the SubjectWell/Reify collaboration stands to elevate patient ID, recruitment, engagement and other aspects of patient interaction?
RP: It starts with SubjectWell’s risk-free clinical trial marketplace; they reach an untapped patient population that’s interested in participating in clinical trials and help potential trial participants understand the specific study criteria, which is a huge time-saver during the pre-screening process. SubjectWell then refers engaged, qualified patients to sites. Traditionally, this referral would be sent to sites via SubjectWell’s technology which may or may not be familiar to each site.
With this partnership, referrals from SubjectWell flow directly into Reify Health’s software, StudyTeam, which is already in use at sites. StudyTeam is the place where thousands of sites already go to manage their patient recruitment work for patients in their practice. Through partnerships like this one with SubjectWell, sites now can receive external referrals in the place where they track their other work too.
By integrating SubjectWell referrals directly into a site’s workflow, we aim to increase the number of sites that opt to receive referrals, improve response times from sites after they receive referrals, and increase the overall success rate of referrals going on to enroll in the trial. We can also leverage our combined data to better understand where bottlenecks may exist in the process and how we can improve it in collaboration with sites and sponsors.
OSP: The Recruitment Partner Interface sounds pretty cool. How does this technology straighten out some of the tangles associated with patient recruitment and enrollment?
RP: Reify Health’s Referral Partner Interface (RPI) makes it possible for a company like SubjectWell to send qualified patient referrals directly into a site’s workflow. This can create value for sites, sponsors, and companies like SubjectWell on any given study.
More broadly, we want to simplify life for sites and make it easier for companies like SubjectWell to work with them across trials. For example, we can make it easy for a referral partner to begin working on a study, even when the study is already enrolling because the site experience won’t change very much - sites will simply begin receiving referrals in the place they’re already working.
Ultimately, this work is all in service of minimizing lost referrals, reducing data entry burden for sites, and providing sponsors with earlier and more accurate visibility into the ROI of their recruitment strategies.
OSP: You said in the announcement that sites get saddled with most of the recruitment groundwork, but the volume of patient sources makes that impossible-- “The resulting burden placed on sites makes it difficult for sponsors to understand the value of their investments in various recruitment strategies.” Could you maybe elaborate on why it’s important for sites and sponsors to be able to grasp the value or ROI of their recruitment strategies?
RP: Sponsors spend an enormous amount of money trying to enroll trials quickly. However, it has historically been nearly impossible for sponsors to actually see the ROI of various strategies because they have been unable to trace enrolled patients back to a specific strategy or tactic. Empowering sponsors and sites with this type of information - ROI on various enrollment strategies for a given trial - allows them to allocate resources in more and more optimal ways.
Where should sites and sponsors spend their time? Where should they allocate their recruitment budget? We can help them answer these questions so that trial-specific enrollment strategies become more and more effective.
OSP: Could you please comment on what it says about the collaboration and the importance of improving patient engagement in general?
RP: Anecdotally, we see the problem we’re solving together - improving patient referral handoffs and tracking - is something that resonates strongly with Lilly, other sponsors, and our sites. This isn’t a new problem for the industry, but our partnership is a new solution.
Clinical trials are large, complex operations. We need to work together to improve them. Reify Health and SubjectWell hope this partnership raises awareness about the importance of working together to tackle these kinds of problems and the opportunities that exist to accelerate enrollment when we do.