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Even before COVID-19, the healthcare system was already trending toward putting the power back into the hands of the consumer with more digital tools and wearables. Now that the disease has hit, that trend has only accelerated: in-person visits are out, telehealth is in, and whatever aspect of the space that can be done in-home is going in that direction, at least for the time being.
That includes clinical trials, thanks to Medable, which announced a $25 million funding round on Monday, led by GSR Ventures, with additional investment from existing investor PPD, Inc. This latest funding brings Medable’s total raised to more than $45 million.
Along with the funding it was also announced that Dr. Sunny Kumar, partner at GSR Ventures, is joining the board of directors at Medable.
"Dr. Kumar and GSR Ventures bring to the company a combined expertise across healthcare, technology and enterprise. Their proven track record scaling companies into multi-billion-dollar industry leaders will further enable us to scale into the leading tech platform for decentralized clinical trials. We’re excited to welcome them to the board as we grow the company to the next level," Dr. Michelle Longmire, CEO and co-founder of Medable, told me.
Medable's platform offers its clients, which include clinical trial sponsors, such as pharma and biotech companies, as well as clinical research organizations who manage trials for those companies, features such as patient identification and site selection through AI and machine learning; digitized patient enrollment; and the ability to do trials in any country and in any language. It also provides them with remote patient monitoring, and the ability to see streaming data and patient data in real-time.
It is currently being used by dozens of biopharma sponsors and clinical research organizations around the globe, and has been used for trials in over 30 countries and 26 languages.
"As we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional trial processes and timelines are insufficient to meet the global need for clinical research. Decentralized trials, also known as virtual trials, can improve access to new therapies and trials for participants, while accelerating trial timelines," said Longmire.
"Over the past several years, we’ve built a unified digital platform that works as a service to streamline clinical trials with direct-to-patient technologies."
The company competes with legacy software companies and homegrown software systems, which Longmire says, "manage specific steps in the trial process but rarely manage the full lifecycle."
"Many of the systems and processes are siloed, obsolete and not well integrated. By contrast, we have a modern platform with the latest digital and mobile technologies that streamline processes and improve data quality across organizations and systems," she explained.
"Our modular platform provides digital technology to manage trials from end to end, streamlining design, recruitment, retention and data quality. We essentially replace siloed systems with integrated digital tools, data and interfaces to accelerate trial execution. Our software-as-a-service connects patients, sites and clinical trial teams to improve patient access, experience and outcomes."
Now that COVID-19 has hit, the platform has seen increased interest over the past two months as in-person trials have become impossible to do. In response, the company introduced a global telemedicine capability to connect patients virtually with site coordinators, investigators and other care professionals.
"Necessity is the mother of invention, and even the mother of adoption, when it comes to this pandemic. Some of these new technologies and processes had already been invented, but not fully adopted, because there was fear that the traditional way was safer. So, now when there's no other way, you can prove that decentralized trials can be done well, safely and conveniently," said Longmire.
"There’s no question that these new approaches work, and work better – in some cases – than traditional methods so I don't see the industry reverting at the scale we had traditionally done."
The new funding will be used, in part, for product development, which means continuing to build out more automation, analytics and integration across the clinical trial life cycle. It will also be used to accelerator market adoption for Medable’s platform and to form more partnerships. The company has recently announced a partnership with MRN to support remote and in-home care; a partnership with AliveCor to scale remote clinical trials by enabling the use of AliveCor’s in-home ECGs as part of Medable’s platform; and a multi-company research framework, which also includes BioIntelliSense, Datavant, Parexel, PWNHealth and the American Heart Association’s Center for Health Technology and Innovation, to accelerate the development of diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19.
"Partnerships are vitally important to make systems and processes work better across the trial life cycle," said Longmire.
Ultimately, she told me, Medable's mission is to reduce clinical trial timelines by 50 percent, so the industry can bring effective therapies to patients faster, with the expectation that Medable will "become the infrastructure that powers the next generation of clinical trials."
"We work hand-in-hand every day with our pharma, biotech and CRO partners to make every clinical trial more accessible to patients in need, and allow these new therapies to get to market faster than currently possible."
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Medable is a privately held, venture-backed company headquartered in Palo Alto, California. We are focused on building a unified platform for clinical trial execution, enabling patient generated data to drive clinical research, and precision and predictive medicine.