Senior figures from Orbital Research have spoken to Health Tech World about the benefits of gathering medical real-world evidence digitally and the potential future of the technology.
The company’s digital RWE process works by asking users in the real world academically supported questions via social media, as well as other digital marketing channels owned by the brand.
On completion of the data collection process, just as in a clinical trial, the study findings are published within relevant medical journals, where they are academically peer reviewed.
At this stage, the company also discuss and agree the findings with regulators to see what new claims can be stated in future product marketing.
All data collected is anonymous and cannot be tracked back to an individual, with the service being targeted towards consumer healthcare brands.
Dr. Simon Rudland, GP and digital RWE medical advisor said: “The two key benefits are the ability to reach large numbers of participants in a rapid timeframe. Traditional research methods may involve hundreds of participants over months, whereas digital RWE provides an opportunity to reach thousands in weeks, with huge implications for confidence relating to these data and the power of the statistical analysis.
“Digital may be cheaper; however, digital does not mean cutting corners, properly structured research with vigorous analysis, correct use of statistics and consideration of bias, of course comes at a cost, whilst this also buys enormous benefits.”
Rudland also spoke about whether the technology has been embraced by professionals in the healthcare sector.
“There is growing interest in digital real-world evidence and the beginnings of an understanding of its true potential which will benefit the early adopters. There is no doubt in my mind that there is still anxiety regarding digital RWE in some way being second-best.
“Digital RWE should be regarded as a complimentary methodology to more traditional research techniques. The healthcare sector regulators are already thinking about digital RWE, where it fits, and how it contributes to consumer confidence.”
Leading experts within healthcare have acknowledged the accelerated adoption of digital technology within the sector. Peter Brady, CEO of Orbital Research, believes the pandemic has highlighted the need for digital RWE.
“RWE is becoming fundamental to the process of understanding the benefits and risks of medicines, when used in clinical practice.
“Undoubtedly COVID-19 has advanced the need for rapid real world data assessments, in relation to treatment and prevention of all diseases. Digital RWE will undoubtedly help speed up the process for building a body of observational evidence, which complements the knowledge gained through clinical trials.”
He added: “I am immensely excited by the promise that digital RWE holds for the future. It is not yet a complete substitute for RCTs, rather an adjunct support for existing clinical trials.
“However, the potential to develop the methodology further, into a variety of areas, could mean billions of pounds worth of value created over the next five years. That is an exciting and potentially disruptive prospect for the healthcare industry.
“If we can provide a greater depth of research so that patients and healthcare professionals can make better, more informed decisions about products, treatments, or med tech, that will be a tremendously exciting transformation to the healthcare industry.”