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Clinical Challenge: Lilly’s Design Challenges Take on Patient User Experience



By Maxine Bookbinder 
 
May 21, 2014 | In its continuing effort to make clinical trials more patient-centric and to improve the time, cost, and efficiency of developing new treatments, Eli Lilly and Company announced the winners of its second Open Clinical Trial challenge, the Patient Engagement App Challenge, which asked software developers worldwide to submit new or existing software applications to educate, engage, and empower participants enrolled in clinical studies. 
 
The first challenge, the Clinical Trial Visualization Redesign Challenge, encouraged entrants to create patient-centric designs for clinical trials based on ClinicalTrials.gov registry records and Informed Consent Documents, in order to stimulate increased developer and designer engagement in health care.
 
/uploadedImages/eCliniqua/Content/2013/09-Sept_Oct/0913_Matczak.jpgThis year, Lilly Clinical Open Innovation (Lilly COI), partnering with UBC, Enlight Biosciences, and IIR USA, sponsored the Patient Engagement App Challenge to develop software tools to make clinical trials more patient-centered and accessible. Developers, designers, researchers and patients were tasked with rethinking the clinical trial experience, and using software and social media to improve patient engagement through education, communication, scheduling, and improvement of medication adherence. By transforming a science-focused and sometimes problematic process into a user-friendly experience, researchers can potentially increase trial participation, completion rates, and new therapies—while saving millions of dollars yearly. 
 
“All of us are smarter than any one of us,” says Jerry Matczak, Clinical Open Innovations Community Manager. “These challenges bring forth new ideas and stimulate the marketplace, which is better for everyone.” 
 
Each challenge had about 40 eligible entrants from 10 countries and rewarded the top prize winners with a total of $100,000 across both challenges. The judges—patient advocates, industry experts, design specialists, technologists and sponsor representatives—adjudicated submissions based on criteria such as visual presentation, patient usefulness, web application appropriateness, and impact on clinical trials.
 
 “It’s hard to say why the judges liked certain designs,” notes Matczak. “It’s like art. How clearly was it laid out? How well did it bring the patient journey to life?” 
 
Matczak sees challenges as a way to help increase trial recruitment and retention rates and drive forward clinical research. He says that Lilly is known for fostering innovation, and hopes these challenges encourage others to do the same. “[Challenges] change the mindset of creativity.”
 
Talent Scouting 
 
An additional benefit to sponsoring challenges is identifying new talent with specific expertise and subject matter knowledge, which can then be applied to other project opportunities.
 
Hassan Seguias, winner of the Clinical Trial Visualization Redesign Challenge, created a website in which “every piece of clinical information has been carefully laid out into chapters to tell a story.” His entry, entitled Spread the Cure, breaks information, from eligibility through completion, into readable chapters, specific sections, and highlighted key notes. 
 
“Normally,” says Seguias, “websites have long lists and vertical chunks of information. They are convoluted and cumbersome with an overload of content and information. We created a website that looks like you are reading a book.”
 
For example, the search results give an overview of the trial; chapters include eligibility requirements, possible risks and harms of particular studies, and social components: a chapter which allows users to share trial information with friends or relatives who might be eligible. A search engine permits users to match needs with trials; a site locations chapter features details on test facilities, maps and directions. A chapter entitled “Schedule of Procedures” gives a timeline of trial procedures, appointments, and activities assigned to the patient. Carefully designed filters, colors, and layers enhance the user-friendly appeal.
 
Seguias’s company, ELEVUX, (Elevating User Experience), in Orlando, Florida, designs and develops mobile apps and websites with a focus on user experience. It is currently designing healthcare mobile apps for other companies, but Spread the Cure remains a prototype. “If resources allow, we will carry it through,” says Seguias. “I am very proud of it.” 
 
As a result of her entry design, Clinical Trial Visualization Redesign Challenge second place winner Donna Ong, on behalf of Composite Apps, is in talks with a clinical trial company to redesign and implement its clinical trial website. She and her team designed “DireCT Mobile Application,” a mobile application that translates medical jargon of pre-trial through Phase III completion into plain English, replacing reams of paper with easily-digestible content.
 
For example, eligibility requirements appear the iPad. (This app was designed only for iPads; Ong has designed other apps for different platforms.) A person can tap on the screen to determine if he meets criteria for a specific trial and then tap again for the next step. “There are no thick packets of paper,” says Ong. “You can go back on tabs to review information and tap to add trials to your Watch List. You can then click ‘submit’ to participate.” When the trial beginning date approaches, it sends a reminder.
 
The app also reminds participants of appointment and medication times and highlights and prioritizes key items. It features muted text colors for easier reading, a gray background to minimize eyestrain, and expands from small frame to full page with a tap. 
 
Ong works at Composite Apps, an Irvine, California, company that incorporates emerging technology and engaging designs to solve business problems and extract value out of existing enterprise investments. Most of its clients are in defense, entertainment, and retail. “We saw this as a challenge for us,” says Ong. “We have the skills. Why not put them into practice in a fragmented industry with convoluted information like healthcare? We are big on making things easier for people through apps. We can help.”
 
Information on both challenges, including the rules, entries, judges and winners, is available on the Challengepost websites at http://ctdesign.challengepost.com/ and http://patientengagement.challengepost.com/. 
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