Andaman7 is dedicated to improving healthcare by providing innovative software technology, with security by design and privacy by default, that enables patients to get full control of their health data.
We are proud to partner with this organization to more effectively match patients to trials, and were thrilled to catch up with Vincent Keunen, founder of Andaman7. In the interview below, Keunen discusses his own extraordinary story, how best to empower patients, and the benefits of decentralized clinical trials for the wider health ecosystem.
Can you tell us a bit about Andaman7? How did you get started? What is your mission and how do you work to achieve it?
In 2007, I was diagnosed with leukemia. Three months later, my 10-year-old son was diagnosed with metastatic bone cancer. At the time, it was difficult to get control of our health data which could have resulted in better outcomes. I was given successful treatment. My son lost his leg.
As founder of Andaman7, with 20 years of experience in the health IT sector and having developed numerous systems, I decided to use my software engineering skills to provide all patients with a tool to manage their health information on their smartphones. That is why I created Andaman7, to help future research, empower patients with their own data, and significantly improve communication between healthcare stakeholders.
Andaman7 is a medical app that gives each patient a global view and access to all their health data which they can continually collect, share and control. Enabling patients to hold a full Personal Health Record (PHR) is transforming clinical trials and real-world evidence, and Andaman7 is unique in this space, offering benefits not just to patients, but to the wider health system.
Patients who are engaged in their healthcare and understand their condition have better health outcomes. Beyond the individual benefits to the patient, this saves time, money and can help develop more efficient treatments. I believe PHRs have a vital role to play in patient empowerment, effective clinical trials, and preventative and precision medicine around the world.
PHRs differ from Electronic Health Records (EHRs) because they are directly for the patients themselves. In the case of Andaman7, the system is VERY patient-centric since it offers a full PHR that the patient can use even outside of the clinical trial for their own benefit. And the data is stored on the smartphone of the patient and never shared unless the patient consents explicitly and has some action to share.
Andaman7 is available in more than 20 languages, meaning we contribute to medical research and empower patients all over the world. The key mission is to put patients in the driver’s seat.
How do you work with partners?
Andaman7 allows patients to access a whole host of services from our partner organizations. It has an integrated layer to allow partners to offer services on top of our secure, distributed, peer-to-peer health data management. This includes everything from ordering medical supplies and home care to discovering their DNA profile.
In return, with consent from patients, those partners have access to rich, real-world patient data. This not only helps patients better manage their health data but also allows outcome measurement for pharma, as well as research and disease management for hospitals and doctors.
We believe collaboration is vital to benefit both sponsors and patients. Our partnership with Antidote is a great example of that as it allows us to offer end-to-end solutions. Sponsors can make use of Antidote’s clinical trial recruitment expertise and clinical trial matching technology to find the right patients, and work with Andaman7 to run quicker, better decentralized trials.
How does Andaman7 help sponsors?
Andaman7 provides a unique way for sponsors to get in touch with patients while preserving their anonymity via electronic questionnaires. There has always been discussion around real-world evidence, but nobody was going the extra mile to develop the technology to allow it to come into the clinical trial world.
At Andaman7, we have created the ultimate Patient Engagement Platform and our truly patient-centric approach offers a number of advantages to sponsors:
- Consent information and the trial itself can be adapted to meet diverse learning styles.
- Dropout rates and cancelled trials are reduced as patients feel more engaged and empowered.
- Data quality is improved as patients take the study more seriously and manage the quality of their responses more accurately.
- Finally, over multiple studies or longer time periods, an extended relationship can be achieved with patients and a wider range of data collected.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many clinical trials to go virtual/decentralize. Why are decentralized trials beneficial? What solutions does Andaman7 provide patients and sponsors in this area?
While the COVID-19 pandemic forced many clinical trials to become hybrid, the medical, scientific, economic, and logistical benefits of decentralized clinical trials over traditional trials are well established.
Decentralized clinical trials are patient-centric, offer a solution to the ever-increasing cost of clinical trials, and are a pathway for therapeutic innovation.
Mobile technologies offer improved and expanded data collection, simplified recruitment with direct access to patients, increased patient engagement, cheaper studies, and set up times that are from three to six times faster.
We know the coronavirus pandemic will last for many more months and could lead to millions more people being hospitalized globally. The Andaman7 approach looks to contribute with short and mid-term solutions.
For example, we have developed a free in-app pandemic module that can help with:
- Informing patients with trusted sources
- Triaging to reduce the load on medical staff and call centers
- Self-testing to reduce the burden on the medical infrastructure
- Data collection for medical and crisis management purposes
- Medical research with urgent clinical trials, patient-reported outcomes (PRO), real-world evidence (RWE), and Quality of Life studies (QoLs).
- Vaccination campaign management to organize large-scale vaccinations, remind patients of second dose, and collect side effect information (pharmacovigilance)
This patient-centric vision is now a priority for all medical research stakeholders, from pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers through to healthcare professionals and patients themselves. Decentralized clinical trials can help to achieve that vision.
Andaman7 has modules for decentralized clinical trials, real-world evidence, quality of life studies, electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePRO), and electronic clinical outcome assessments (eCOA). These modules allow us to make decentralized trials easier, cheaper, and better for all stakeholders across the spectrum.
Are decentralized trials here to stay? We believe so. Not only do they improve the quality, quantity, and relevance of collected data, but they also reduce the costs of research by accelerating trial recruitment and engaging patients much more, which ultimately helps sponsors.
What are you most excited about in the clinical trials and research landscape today?
The real engagement of patients. Patients are much more willing to contribute to research if their data is not abused. That means patients want to be asked before their data is used, they want to know which data will be used and for what purposes. Then they want to be able to remove their consent if necessary. Once the trust is in place, patients can be extremely valuable partners for medical research. After all, better treatments benefit patients first.