Firm tries startup's tech tricks for clinical trial recruitment

Can analyzing the online habits of physicians aid pharma companies in clinical trial recruitment? Global consulting firm InVentiv Health has struck a partnership with the social analytics startup Medikly, believing that young company's technology gives it an edge in assisting its clients with finding physicians to participate in clinical research.

New York City-based Medikly has granted InVentiv with 9 months of exclusivity for the use of its physician-engagement software in clinical trials recruitment, Medikly Founder and CEO Dr. Venkat Gullapalli told FierceBiotech IT. Clinical trial recruitment is uncharted territory for Medikly, but the upstart has some experience in applying its tech for pharma marketing and education. InVentiv also uses the startup's software for its marketing business, Gullapalli said. No financial details of the agreement were revealed.

Medikly has developed web-based software for detailing the online patterns of specific clinicians, shedding light on which platforms they use to consume and share information and when. The technology has enabled marketing groups in pharma to manage their digital promotional materials and how they are shared with physicians. It also charts a doctor's social influence and indicates whether certain campaigns have worked, Gullapalli explained.

"The technology is nothing special," Gullapalli, a pediatrician by training, says. "Where we as an organization differentiate ourselves is how we apply technology that has already existed in the consumer space to the pharmaceutical space. Our algorithms are specific to physicians and capturing their information."

Raymond Hill, EVP of clinical at InVentiv

Burlington, MA-based inVentiv expects that the digital profiles of doctors from Medikly's software would be helpful in selecting which doctors would be interested in clinical research. Clinical trial sponsors go to great lengths to find physicians to serve as investigators in their drug studies, and many have already experimented with online outreach via Facebook and other websites. Nearly all physicians spend time online, so sponsors have reasoned that the Internet is a good place to find one of their target audiences.

"By now, we all know that digital technologies can streamline clinical trials and save costs, but the challenge is knowing which technologies to use and how to best deploy them to save the most money and time," said Raymond Hill, inVentiv's executive VP of clinical, in a statement.

- here's the release