The age of digital health is upon us. For those of us who have been working for the last several years to bring the tools and technology that have transformed shopping, travelling and banking to healthcare, there is evidence that we are finally making a real difference to the lives of patients. Even the big players such as Apple, Google and Amazon are focusing on making us live longer, healthier lives, surely a sign that digital health is going mainstream.
My own journey in digital health began in Argentina. I always wanted to be a doctor, except for the few months when I considered being an astronaut until I realised Argentina didn’t have a space program. After high school I would ride my bike to the local hospital where my friend Jessica was training to be a surgeon and imagine myself heroically saving lives in the ER, just like George Clooney.
But political upheaval sent me in a different direction; to Europe, business school and a career building web-based businesses. It would take another twenty years before a conversation with Jessica, by then an eminent heart surgeon, inspired me to start Antidote and bring together my passion for medicine with my experience building internet marketplaces.
Antidote is solving one of the biggest problems in medicine and drug development, matching patients and clinical trials, so breakthroughs happen faster. It’s incredible to me that you can find and book a flight to anywhere in the world, but it’s almost impossible to find a suitable clinical trial.
Many of the lessons I learned connecting travellers to flights or shoppers to handbags helped me understand and solve the fundamental problems in clinical trials:
The first challenge was that, although there was a lot of information about clinical trials online, it was very hard to find the right trial. Search for a breast cancer trial on clinicaltrials.gov and you will find sixty-nine trials in San Francisco with thousands of lines of medical jargon. We took all that data and structured it so an algorithm can match you with a high degree of precision to trials near you. It took a large team and several years to do this work, but we can now say that we have made almost 75% of all US trials much easier to find and apply for.
The second major obstacle is that the vast majority of patients today don’t know that clinical trials are an option for them. In an NIH survey regarding cancer clinical trials, an area where research participation can be life changing, 85% of patients were either unaware or unsure that participation in a clinical trial was an option at the time of diagnosis, but if they had known, 75% would have been willing to enroll.
There has never been a more promising time in medicine, especially for diseases like cancer, but the fact that so few patients take part in trials is delaying the development of new drugs by years. Our mission is to shorten the time it takes to get new treatments to the people who so badly need them.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a meeting organized by a patient community. What made that meeting special is that I didn't go representing Antidote - I went as an actual caregiver. Our mission to help patients and accelerate clinical research is very real. I met so many people at this meeting with unmet medical needs, families looking for answers and hope. I've been in this sector for many years, but only now that I've been on the other side of table I can say I truly appreciate the importance of what we do, and how much I really want to serve this community.
So how are we doing this? We are giving away for free our Antidote Match tool to online sites where patients go for support and information. I learned this lesson from Google and Kayak. By giving away the widget, you can reach millions of people at no cost.
Today, more than 250 + patient communities such as Healthline, Lung Cancer Alliance, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of America are using Match to connect their patients with trials. But we are not stopping there. We are using the big platforms such as Facebook and Google, which reach billions of people, to educate people about clinical trials as an important care option, not just as a last ditch desperate attempt to extend life or quality of life.
The other critical thing you need to do when you are trying to connect two groups of people, for example those trying to buy tickets for a flight and airlines trying to fill seats or, in our case, patients and medical researchers, is to build the infrastructure so that the two groups can find and engage with each other. That’s exactly what we’ve done with our new product Antidote Base. In the same way that Match makes it easier to find trials, Base makes it easier for researchers and clinical sites to find the patients who are a good fit for their studies.
Of course there are other companies trying to solve this important problem, but no company except Antidote has truly tackled the underlying fundamentals of structuring all the data, building the digital infrastructure and tools to connect hundreds of thousands of patients to researchers all over the world.
Ultimately our work comes back to patients. A couple of years ago, we received an email from an ALS patient called Eric. Eric is completely paralyzed and communicates via computer by moving his right eye. This is what he said:
“Clinical trial information today is almost impossible to find and understand unless you are a medical professional,” said ALS patient Eric Valor. “Having a better option than clinicaltrials.gov, which many patients simply cannot navigate or decipher, is a great resource.”
It’s patients like Eric that have kept us going through the early years of Antidote. We are finally starting to have the impact we set out to have, but we still have a long way to go. The day when there are no delays in the development of new drugs and treatments because of a shortage of patients to take part in medical research is the day we can say our job is done.
About the Author
Pablo is a seasoned entrepreneur with a track record that includes some of the most successful internet companies in Europe. He was responsible for e-commerce at NetJuice, Europe’s biggest incubator, in the late 1990s.
He later took the role of MD at DondeComprar.com, the first shopping directory in Spanish, and led the merger with Kelkoo.com to create the largest price comparison and #3 e-commerce destination in Europe.
Kelkoo was acquired in 2004 by Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) for $575m. Pablo was Kayak.com’s first employee outside of the US (NASDAQ: KYAK), spearheading the international roll-out of the company in 2006, and later Commercial Director for ValueClick (NASDAQ: VCLK), a position he left to found TrialReach in early 2009.
TrialReach rebranded to Antidote.me
Pablo graduated as Bachelor in Business Studies at Universidad Antonio de Nebrija and studied Biology at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. He lives in London and is a regular speaker at Internet and digital health conferences.
Source : https://www.antidote.me