MGH, ProofPilot, Google Cloud team up on academic clinical research tool

The new collaboration will kick off with a study focused on bipolar disorder and time-restricted feeding.
By Laura Lovett
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This morning, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Google Cloud and digital clinical trial startup ProofPilot inked a deal to create a new clinical research platform targeted at academic medical centers and universities. 

The trio plan to kick off this new platform with a study called “Piloting Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF) for Bipolar Disorder” at MGH. 

The new collaboration will tap into ProofPilot’s clinical trial platform and use Google Cloud’s cloud-based servers and FHIR data products. MGH researchers will then be able to adapt the features to their needs. Additionally, researchers will be able to control the number of email reminders, text messages and push notifications sent to clinical trial participants.

“Academic researchers are pulled in so many directions. They teach, see patients, write grants, manage staff ... and conduct research on top of all that,” Matthew Amsden, CEO of ProofPilot, said in a statement. “This collaboration focuses as much on study design processes as it does participant experience. By focusing on both, studies get designed faster and launched to a more engaged participant."

WHY IT MATTERS 

Increasingly, researchers have been turning to digital as a tool for clinical trials. However, many stakeholders say there is a long way to go with these efforts. 

“If you think about how we could use digital health to do better clinical trials, when you think of how our industry in the past has tried to engage patient population and recruit from clinical trials, we haven’t done a good job reaching a diverse population for clinical trials,” Bob Coughlin, executive director of the Mass Biotech Council, said at the Connected Health Conference in October. 

THE LARGER TREND 

Founded in 2014, ProofPilot has focused on working with academic institutions. In 2016 it relaunched its clinical trial productwhich was geared toward academics and clinical researchers, as well as individuals, nonprofits and community groups. 

While stakeholders continue to explore how best to digitize clinical trials, a number of startups have cropped up in the space. Trials.ai, Protocols.io and Medaptive Health are all focusing on making it easier for biotech and pharma to improve protocol and design

ON THE RECORD

"Together we are delivering a platform that will increase the speed and reduce the cost of research. It's beyond 'curing disease.' It's the power to ask more questions of diverse data sets that will provide unique insights and change lives," Heidi Dohse, senior program manager at Google Healthcare and Life Science, who brokered the collaboration, said in a statement. "As a lifelong heart patient and athlete myself, I know that the continued quality of my life is dependant on timely research and the ease of study inclusion for people like me."