Monday, June 25, 2007

Drug Trials and Voice Mashups

According to BCC Research, spending on clinical trials in the United States was almost $24 billion dollars in 2005. According to Microsoft:

Pharmaceutical companies can spend 12 to 15 years and up to $900 million to bring a drug to market. About 45 percent of this cost is accrued during the clinical trial phase. Additionally, studies indicate that 75 percent of all trials conducted in the United States are behind schedule by one to six months. Because improving time-to-market for new drugs is critical for pharmaceutical companies, managing the clinical trial process is one of the most significant areas of opportunity for improvement.

Critical to the success of any trial is the consistent, streamlined and reliable collection of patient data. Exacerbating the problem are logistics, for most trials involve hundreds and thousands of medical personnel and patients. Pharmaceutical companies must leverage technology to help teams communicate and to collect patient data not only for cost reasons, but quality as well.

I believe that this problem begs for a solution based on programmable web technologies. Using the phone as a input device, patients involved in the trial can give consistent feedback that is instantly available to researchers. Using the web as a platform allows for simple and reliable integration with existing equipment in the phamaceutical vendor's systems, especially when issues such as geography or inter-company communication are involved. Using technologies such as Voice XML and Ruby on Rails, reliable and scalable systems may be custom designed to collect data from patients in very rich ways, decreasing the time to analyze results from trials, speeding time to market, while lowering costs.

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