3 Ways to Upgrade Life Sciences R&D

Engaging Human-centered Design can streamline the complexity of pharma research and clinical trials—resulting in faster, simpler, more productive drug discovery and clinical trials.
Paul Jacobs

Human-centered Design for evolved productivity  

As humans, we inherently appreciate higher levels of productivity—and that’s true regardless of whether we’re at home, working in the lab or taking part in a trial. Ticking a task off our to-do list results in the release of dopamine into our nervous system, learning a new skill creates a sense of growth and getting into a ‘flow state’ at work helps maintain healthy emotional regulation. When things are moving along well, we just know.  

Life Science R&D is complex—and the stakes tend to be high. So, how can we reduce complication and encourage that all-important productivity? That’s where Human-centered Design (HCD) comes in. 

Human-centered Design is an approach to designing services, products and experiences that involves the human perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. In the Life Science arena, the results of HCD can be a return on investment through executive command and control of trial operations, faster recruitment, more trials completed and more empowered researchers. 

Organizations like MediRedi—in partnership with frog—are using human insights to build digital technologies that reduce appointment wait times and connect patients with healthcare professionals from the comfort of their own home. Back in February 2020, frog partnered with HealthHero to launch a virtual primary care venture to bring together the convenience of digital delivery with the expertise of human clinicians, this business has grown to serve over 30 million patients across Europe. 

 

The core benefits of Human-centered Design in R&D 

There’s an opportunity to streamline the complexity of R&D to make the process of drug discovery and clinical trials faster, simpler, more productive and more satisfying through HCD. 

  • Reducing complexity: Minimizing white space and streamlining processes in a thoughtful way that considers and achieves organizational goals and the individual priorities of stakeholders. 
  • Fostering inclusivity: Creating conditions that recognize all viewpoints. Ensuring diversity in all aspects of the R&D process—from executive decision making to clinical trial participation. 
  • Shaping the right tools: Placing humans at the center of the process to create intuitive solutions that solve real, everyday challenges. These tools seek to provide command and control over processes and data. 
1Fixing clinical trials ops and experience

Clinical trials are difficult to manage and administer due to the complexity of communication between different stakeholders. Complex data collection needs, regulatory and compliance and a requirement to keep patients engaged in trials means that often we look to technology to solve the problems. 

What if you could create conditions that minimize waste, redundancy and white space during trials, whilst also improving the patient and investigator experience? 

By examining and rethinking trials at a systems level, HCD simplifies the whole journey for administrators and patients: reducing unnecessary steps, managing live data and documents, supporting adherence and enabling confident cross-stakeholder decision-making. 

In action 

  • Working in an integrated, GxP-compliant agile environment with a global pharmaceutical company, frog is designing a digital clinical trial platform for patients, investigators and clinical research administration teams, unifying multiple underlying systems into a seamless web and mobile experience, customizable for all future clinical trials. 
  • frog designed a digital-first PRO instrument for respiratory clinical trials with children aged 6–11. It had to be engaging, self-explanatory, fast and inclusive of kids who weren’t yet able to read. We tested and refined the solution with kids with asthma from around the world to achieve a universal solution. 

Core benefits: 

  • More remotely gathered, accurate and real-time data 
  • Increased patient engagement and trial retention 
  • Reduced trial dropout rates 
  • Time saved from simplified trial administration 
  • Greater ability to scale clinical trials 
  • Executive command and control on trials 
2Overcoming barriers within patient recruitment

With often limited numbers of eligible candidates, it can be a challenge to identify a suitable and diverse population of patients and then convert them into trial participants. Limited tools and resources often make it hard to connect with patients in way that sets expectations clearly. 

What if you could quickly and easily recruit the right patients, for the right trial and reduce trial lengths or lead times? 

HCD enables the identification of potential barriers for both patients and trial sites and thus opportunities to overcome them. In doing so, it’s possible to create services or experiences that bring both parties together. 

In action 

  • frog partnered with one of the largest healthcare payers in the US (serving 20 million+ customers) to support them in redesigning their digital experience to increase plan enrolment and retention. Through a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research methods, it was possible to develop a human-centered digital tool that saw an uptick of 33% in enrolment in the first month of launch. 

Core benefits: 

  • Improved clinical trial patient quality leading to fewer dropouts 
  • Increased access to different patient populations 
  • Streamlined patient recruitment processes 
  • Reduced recruitment cost 
  • Increased diversity of participants 
3Streamlining research

Machine learning models and analytics software are increasingly being used across research; however, this requires jumping between different tools and often require deep data science knowledge with time spent coding and analyzing data. 

What if you could streamline the connective tissue in research without jumping between different systems? 

HCD has enabled familiar and intuitive interfaces to be developed that allow Research professionals to engage and utilize this groundbreaking technology across their organizations. 

In action 

  • DARPA needed to rethink how they operated, analyzed and processed large amounts of complex research data as they increasingly used AI within their research processes, they partnered with frog to design and transform the experience across all functions into a single experience and joined-up interface. 

Core benefits: 

  • Focusing on only the right candidates for experiments reduces wasted time and allows for more strategic decision-making 
  • Increased understanding of what makes a molecule work for that particular target, leading to more breakthroughs 
  • Increased number of drug candidates that make it to market in a shorter period of time 
  • Increased potential for novel solutions from compound candidates 
  • Increased number of high-quality candidates to test in the wet lab 

Promoting productivity 

Innovation in Life Science R&D is crucial to success. By considering human needs alongside business goals and technical feasibility during drug discovery and clinical trials, HCD can reduce complexity and increase the productivity of those involved.  

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Author
Paul Jacobs
Director, Head of Health and Life Science practice
Paul Jacobs
Paul Jacobs
Director, Head of Health and Life Science practice

Paul has over 20 years’ experience leading teams and delivering innovation strategy, digital products and services in life sciences and healthcare across U.S., European and Global markets. Paul joined frog in November 2021 after spending seven years in-house at LEO Pharma where he had several roles including heading up digital marketing in UK/IE, running early-stage digital therapeutic product pipelines at the LEO Innovation Lab, before becoming Head of Innovation for digital initiatives where he owned and directed the pipeline strategy and execution of digital innovation initiatives and projects. Before LEO Pharma, Paul worked with a range of pharma, life science and healthcare companies to deliver digital strategy and innovation.

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