From data to discovery: How Yonalink transforms clinical trials with cutting-edge technology

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Clinical data management Clinical research Data management Clinical trials Artificial intelligence Technology

Clinical trials are the backbone of medical advancements, yet the process of managing and utilizing clinical data has long been plagued by inefficiencies and manual labor.

YonaLink, a pioneering company in digital healthcare, is set to change that. In an in-depth interview with senior editor, Liza Laws, Gav Martell, co-founder of Yonalink, shared insights into his journey, the company’s groundbreaking technology, and the promising future of clinical trials.

The genesis of Yonalink

Gav Martell’s path to Yonalink is a testament to the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and the drive to solve real-world problems. With a background in software and hardware, Martell has always been at the intersection of complex, regulated industries. “I started my career at IBM and have always worked in heavily regulated industries,” Martell explained. "I worked at a broadcasting company dealing with the FCC, at a drone company with the FAA, and now in healthcare with the FDA. The common thread has been simplifying complex problems to enable people to do things more easily.”

The idea for the company emerged from Martell’s interactions with Iddo Peleg, a health industry veteran who is CEO and co-founder. “Iddo kept telling me about this problem in digital healthcare where clinical trials involve manually copying data from hospital records into data capture systems,” Martell recalled. “Over several months, he convinced me that this was the next big challenge we should tackle, and so we started Yonalink in 2019.”

Key features of Yonalink’s platform

Yonalink’s core technology revolves around two main components: YonaLink Connect and Yonalink EDC. “Yonalink Connect solves the interoperability problem by connecting to various hospitals,” Martell said. “We’ve connected to 7,000 medical centers across the US, Europe, and Israel. It grabs data from hospitals, normalizes it, and gets it ready for delivery.”

The YonaLink EDC, on the other hand, is a traditional data capture system enhanced by modern technology. “The magic happens when you combine the two,” Martell noted. “Data from hospitals is placed in the exact right fields in the EDC system, saving costs, time, and improving data quality.”

Ensuring data accuracy and integrity

Ensuring the accuracy and integrity of data is paramount in clinical trials. Martell emphasized that the company’s system complies with all necessary regulations, including HIPAA and GDPR. “In our pilot, we achieved 100% accuracy of the data transferred,” he said. “The process includes built-in verification where data is reviewed before it’s fully integrated into the system.”

This meticulous approach ensures that any anomalies or errors are caught early. “Good software practices and our AI engine play a crucial role in maintaining this high level of accuracy,” Martell added.

Overcoming development challenges

Developing the technology was not without its challenges. Initially, the team envisioned their platform as a mere pipeline between hospitals and existing EDC systems. “We thought we’d just be a pipe in the middle,” Martell explained. “But we realized that none of the EDCs knew what to do with streaming data. So, in 2020, we restarted from scratch, building a system that could handle streaming data with AI to place the data accurately.”

This pivot was crucial in making the system robust and adaptable. “Our system now supports streaming data from various sources, including medical devices and patient questionnaires,” Martell said.

Vision and mission of Yonalink

At the heart of its mission is the democratization of clinical trials. “Today, a majority of clinical trials are run by a small number of sites, making it expensive and logistically challenging,” Martell explained. “Our goal is to lower the bar for medical sites to participate, thereby increasing patient access and diversity in trials.”

By reducing the workload and costs for medical sites, YonaLink aims to make clinical trials more accessible and widespread. “This means more patients can get access to trials, especially those in remote or underserved areas,” Martell added.

Positive feedback and impact

Gav Martell

YonaLink has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both medical centers and sponsors. “People love our product and company,” Martell shared. “A new customer recently told me that the references she received were the most enthusiastic she had ever encountered. It’s because we’re solving a real problem that significantly impacts day-to-day operations.”

The impact on clinical trial staff has been profound. “Study coordinators and site staff often tell us that manually copying data is the most tedious part of their job,” Martell said. “With Yonalink, we’re automating a large portion of this task, making their jobs more fulfilling and less error-prone.”

Data privacy and security

Data privacy and security are critical concerns in the healthcare industry. Yonalink addresses these issues with stringent measures. “All our systems are GDPR compliant, and we conduct regular audits and penetration tests,” Martell assured. “We also ensure that data is managed locally to comply with regional regulations.”

Future directions

Looking ahead, Yonalink aims to expand its network of connected hospitals and enhance its data streaming capabilities. “We’re working to close the gap in streaming unstructured data like doctor’s notes and scanned images using AI,” Martell revealed. “By the end of the year, we hope to stream even more data types to make our system even more comprehensive.”

The role of AI in clinical trials

AI and automation are set to revolutionize the landscape of clinical trials. Martell, with his extensive experience in software, sees both the potential and the challenges. “AI can significantly speed up processes and improve accuracy,” he said. “However, it must be adopted with caution, as it’s not always perfect.”

Martell shared a personal anecdote about experimenting with AI in his kitchen, highlighting its versatility and potential. “I’ve been using ChatGPT as a sous chef to assist with cooking tasks, showing just how AI can integrate into various aspects of life,” he said.

Partnerships and collaborations

The company has formed strategic partnerships to further its mission. “We have a strong partnership with Sheba Medical Center in Israel and are collaborating with companies like ProofPilot,” Martell said. “We’re also in discussions with several large CROs, which we hope to announce soon.”

Conclusion

Yonalink’s innovative approach to clinical trials is poised to transform the industry. By automating data transfer and ensuring accuracy, the company not only improves efficiency but also enhances the overall quality of clinical trials. With a clear vision and a robust technological foundation, Gav Martell and his team are paving the way for more accessible and efficient clinical trials, ultimately aiming to make a significant impact on global healthcare.

As YonaLink continues to grow and evolve, its commitment to solving real-world problems and improving patient access to clinical trials remains unwavering. “We’re not just a tech company; we’re here to change the world of clinical trials,” Martell concluded.

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