Leveraging Chatbots in Decentralized Clinical Trials

welocalize January 14, 2022

Chatbots are computer programs that interact with humans through text, messaging, or voice. With the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots are now an important channel for customer interaction.

All vertical industries and sectors can benefit from the opportunities offered by chatbots, in particular, within life sciences to improve efficiencies in clinical trials.

Back in 1943, the first modern-day clinical trial for the common cold was conducted in Great Britain. Over 1,000 patients who participated in the trial traveled an average of two to three hours to reach the centralized trial location. Clinical investigators wrote down all observations by hand. It took around 18 months to generate a report.

We are now in the 21st century. The world has become digital. However, not much has changed for the life sciences industry where clinical trials are concerned.

A clinical trial is a long, resource-consuming process. Drugs under trial can take as long as nine years to reach the market and can cost up to US$1.3 billion.

The US52 billion clinical trial industry needs a digital makeover and aLife science companies have started implementing clinical trial chatbots. So, let’s understand what they are and how they are useful.

What Is a Clinical Trial Chatbot?

A clinical trial chatbot is a conversational AI interface specifically developed to understand and interact in medical and life science terminology.

These chatbots engage with patients. The patients can provide information about their ongoing treatment and other background information through text or voice notes.

Interaction with the chatbot will be the first interaction that patients interested in a particular clinical trial will have with the conducting pharma company. This means the clinical trial chatbot should be multilingual. A multilingual clinical trial chatbot helps organizations get higher participation.

Clinical Trial Chatbots for Patient Recruitment

Recruiting patients for clinical trials remains a problem. Over two-thirds of sites fail to meet the recruitment requirements for the trial and up to 50% of sites fail to enroll one or they enroll no patients at all. This is because most trials are centralized and patients have to travel great distances to be a part of the trial.

While the world is becoming digital, the pharma industry isn’t changing fast enough to cater to digital patients. A decentralized clinical trial process is in need.

Clinical trial chatbots can be used to recruit patients and conduct decentralized clinical trials. Social media and digital campaigns are helping clinical trial sites get a lot of visibility. The increased traction is resulting in thousands of inquiries. Processing all these inquiries one by one can cause delays.

Clinical trial chatbots can be designed to help trial sites save time through automated questioning and interaction. These chatbots can be programmed to ask questions according to the input provided by the patients. The questions designed to get information help to ascertain the eligibility of the patient for the trial.

Advanced chatbots can also be programmed to seek permission from the interested participant to send an email to their physician. This allows the trial site to get detailed information about the patient from their attending physician.

Automating the information gathering and information disseminating process through chatbots will help in conducting decentralized clinical trials.

Shortening Recruitment Time

The patient data gathered through automated questioning will reduce the recruitment time. Evaluating each application means critically ill patients will lose precious time. The clinical trial chatbot can help both pharma companies and patients. With chatbot monitoring, companies can opt for decentralized trials where patients can participate in the trial from the comfort of their homes.

Bringing a new drug to the market is a long and audacious process. This process can be considerably shortened by streamlining the patient recruitment procedure and decentralizing the trial process. Clinical trial chatbots help with streamlining and decentralizing by asking questions, giving reminders, and recording the data.

Remote Patient Participation

The average dropout rate for any clinical trial is 30%. One reason for this high dropout rate is the long travel time required to reach the trial site. With a remote patient monitoring system, clinical trials can be decentralized and the dropout rates can be reduced considerably. A clinical trial chatbot can help by providing pill reminders, producing real-time reporting, monitoring health status, and collecting trial data without visiting the site.

Chatbots form the base for decentralized clinical trials.

What Can We Expect in the Future?

The future of clinical trials is digital. COVID-19 accelerated the digitization process in the pharma industry, as there was an immediate need for preventive drugs. This brought the pharma industry under the scanner. The need for speed highlighted the faults in the clinical trial process.

What lies ahead for the life science industry is advanced AI-powered chatbots designed to make life easy for participants and trial conductors.

Learn More

You might also like Welocalize’s guide to Conversational AI which contains great insights on leveraging AI-systems (like chatbots) in multiple languages to deliver great customer experience.

Welocalize specializes in collecting, annotating, and evaluating the unstructured information of big data to create accurate, high-quality training data sets for machine learning. For more information on Welocalize AI Services, contact the team here.