Andaman7 : path to growth always needs to be reinvented
© Regional-IT - This Regional-IT article was published in its French version on February 17, 2022
The Belgian e-health start-up Andaman7 continues to bet its growth and expansion on the clinical studies market, in addition to its other strategic and original focuses - i.e. a personal medical record management app. White labeling is also being developed as an additional avenue. Not to mention the app now being referenced on a major insurance company app portal.
Since the start of 2022, the personal medical record app Andaman7 has been referenced on the insurance company Ethias app portal. This is another showcase for the Belgium/EU-based start-up, allowing it to reach its audience: patients on a global scale.
For some time now, Andaman7’s main focus has been on clinical studies as well as on the partnerships to be built, in a global market, with health institutions, public authorities and pharmaceutical companies — in addition to its medical record positioning aimed at patients, doctors and hospitals.
We took the opportunity of Andaman7's arrival on Ethias’ portal to review the start-up’s strategy with its CEO and founder, Vincent Keunen.
Andaman7´s primary objectives — empowering patients and helping medical research — has encountered some resistance from some hospitals (although the solution has been implemented by tens of thousands of hospitals in some markets). The process of implementation proved to be longer than anticipated. In order to sustain its development path, Andaman7 has focused on the more mature and open markets, as well as on emerging needs: decentralized clinical studies and real world data collection.
The promising market of Decentralized Clinical Studies
More than ever, the company is looking to expand internationally. Particularly in the United States, where Andaman7 believes it has found fertile ground and where its solution, compliant with international standards, “is compatible with the electronic patient record systems of 85% of American hospitals”, stresses Vincent Keunen. And gradually, more sources are added such as GP systems, pharmacies, labs, payers…
Today, Decentralized Clinical Studies (DCTs) are Andaman7’s main focus. One advantage of DCTs is that they allow patients to participate in trials without having to go to a healthcare facility or a clinical study site, according to a set schedule. Another advantage is the larger amount of quality data - fresh data and almost real time data.
Another trend that Andaman7 wants to exploit is RWE (real world evidence) data, i.e. “medical or clinical observation data obtained outside the context of randomized controlled trials”, in the patient's “real life” situation and environment.
The convergence of various technologies (electronic records, “smart” devices, connectivity etc.) and the evolution of practices (further accelerated by the Covid-19 health crisis) are helping to make Decentralized or Distributed Clinical Trials an increasingly attractive and profitable field for players in the sector.
Patients can participate in clinical studies while remaining in their home environment. The organizations which conduct the studies can collect and analyze data on a much more regular basis, even in real time. In addition, the analysis of (anonymized) patient data to select cohorts of testing patients speeds up the process and frees it from geographical constraints.
The potential time savings, both before and during clinical trials, translate into potentially major financial gains.
“Our customers, mainly American companies so far, are pharmaceuticals, biotechs, clinical research organizations (CROs), medical equipment manufacturers - whether large companies or small start-ups”, explains Vincent Keunen.
As 2022 gets underway, he packed his bags in order to go on an exploration and negotiation tour on the East and West coasts of the United States (Boston and San Francisco). It's worth to mention: a contract was recently signed with a “major US e-health operator” for the use of the Andaman7 solution in clinical studies characterized by “a strong patient involvement” (a strict non-disclosure agreement prevents the name of this “major operator” or even the content of the deal from being mentioned). The RWE clinical study will be completed by the end of summer 2022.
“Its value”, says Vincent Keunen, “is half a million dollars, which shows the importance of what Andaman7 offers for the sector.”
The fact is that the company will need additional financial resources, especially if it wants to gain stature and to compete with Medable and Science37, both American players which have much more comfortable financial chests than the Belgium-based start-up.
Andaman7 however hopes to be able to use the fact that, unlike those two companies, “which mostly offer e-PRO (Electronic Patient Reported Outcomes) functionalities, Andaman7 combines e-PRO and personal patient record functionalities, with the possibility for the patient to access and share information from his/her medical file”. This will make possible the other dimension of modern medicine and clinical trials 2.0 : personalized therapy and care.
Going viral, going white label?
Another development aspect for the company could be the availability of the Andaman7 solution under white label. “This would allow other players in the healthcare sector to integrate the solution in order to offer new services''. Which also makes it possible for Andaman7 to attract new partners in order to enter additional national markets. “For instance, for the deployment of telemedicine solutions, such as distant consultation. In addition to video consultation, Andaman7’s solution allows for an exchange of data [between patient and doctor]. This makes it possible for the patient to fill in a questionnaire before the consultation, or to share his/her medical record in advance…”
What kind of partner is Andaman7 looking for or hoping to convince? “Preferably players of a certain size”, answers Vincent Keunen. “Whether American or European but with a robust sales force. Whether they operate in the healthcare sector or in the research world. And, potentially, with access to capital in order to accelerate Andaman7’s growth. We are also looking at recruiting senior management for our US operations. With 5 or 10 partners, we already would have enough lift to generate and sustain our growth.”
Another string to the bow
The fact that Andaman7 is being referenced on the Ethias app portal is, in itself, a recognition, as well as an additional contact point and activation lever for new users. Andaman7s arrival on the Ethias app portal was an opportunity for the start-up to add an additional “badge” to its pedigree: on top of the already achieved GDPR (EU General Data Protection Regulation), HIPAA (US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), FDA (Federal Drug Administration) 21 CFR part 11, EU Annex 11 and GCP (Good Clinical Practices) certifications (the last 3 are extremely strict and related to clinical trials), the app is now Dekra compliant.
That certification, awarded by the French Dekra certification organization which operates in the field of connected health (among other domains), is based on a multi-criteria reference framework (400 control items, 60 certification criteria). The Dekra certification covers various assessment areas: ergonomics, legal compliance (data protection, GDPR), contents and (cyber)security.
Vincent Keunen: “Besides the Dekra certification, we were able to successfully complete the assessment process of two major e-health solution suppliers, both part of the global pharmaceutical Top 5. It paves the way for future clinical studies and for other potential accomplishments in the PEP (Patient Engagement Platforms) market…”.