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“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke
Apple has a knack for making technology that, to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, feels a bit magical. It turns out that’s the sort of technology people strongly prefer to use. As a result, Apple has built a loyal consumer following, suggesting that commitment to a delightful technology experience is simply good business. Professionals in all industries have taken note of Apple’s success, and clinical research professionals are no exception.
I and others working in clinical innovation have looked to Apple for inspiration on how we might use technology to improve the patient experience. How can we make research participation more delightful and less frustrating? How can we distill a very complex process into an experience that feels very simple for research participants? How can we make clinical research more…Apple-like? Now we won’t have to look much further for potential answers. Apple itself is seeking to answer these questions.
Apple recently announced ResearchKit, creating waves far beyond the clinical research community. ResearchKit is an open-source framework that provides researchers and application developers with a platform to build mobile study apps. Apple’s announcement was accompanied by the release of five ResearchKit-built apps. Because the ResearchKit framework integrates multiple capabilities into one platform, researchers have a single destination to conduct research. And patients have a single destination to participate in research, simply by downloading any chosen study app onto their mobile device.
Click the image to view an infographic about the Lilly COI API
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As the Internet continues to mature and more people access the web through desktop and mobile apps, the need for APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) has never been more pressing. APIs provide a consistent, easy-to-use way for developers to access data that can be built into mobile apps or websites.
Since 2005, ProgrammableWeb has cataloged the world’s APIs and has become the de facto journal of the API economy. Today there are more than 12,000 APIs listed in the ProgrammableWeb directory, but only 2.07% of those APIs are health-related. Clinical research-related APIs are hardly present at all, accounting for just 0.07% of the APIs listed on ProgrammableWeb.
The Lilly COI API is at the center of our efforts to make it easier for people to find clinical trials that are right for them or their loved ones. The API was created to make publicly-available clinical trial information easier for people to understand and easier for developers to work with.
Making clinical information accessible and useful on the Internet is fundamental to clinical open innovation, and a well-planned API is essential in the equation.
This idea was reinforced for us at this year’s Open Source Convention (OSCON), held July 22-26 in Portland, Oregon.
As the Tech Lead for the Lilly Clinical Open Innovation Team I was thrilled to have the opportunity to attend this year’s convention with one of our project leads, Dean Sellis. OSCON is about “how the close partnership between business and the open source community is building the future.” And, here at Lilly COI, we are very interested in learning how open methods of development and innovation can have a positive impact on the future of healthcare.
Here are just a few of things we learned at OSCON that we think will help us along the way:
Lilly COI’s mission is to explore the possibilities of transforming drug development through open models of work. We regularly seek knowledge and insights from a wide range of people involved in the healthcare ecosystem, because we believe that only a diverse range of perspectives will help us gain a true understanding of what patients and researchers need. With their valuable insights in mind, we are able to lay some groundwork for the development of solutions that make it easier to access information about clinical trials.
To this end, we are developing a series of exploratory prototypes. The prototypes leverage our open Lilly Clinical Innovation API (LCOI-API), and each focuses on different ways to leverage clinical trial information to benefit those who need it. We invite you to take a look at these prototypes and share your thoughts about them in our Application Lab (App Lab).
Explore the App Lab
In the App Lab, you can explore projects we’re working on, and share your thoughts on how we could improve them.
As you’re looking at the apps, ask yourself:
Does this make it easier for me to find information about clinical trials?
Would it be useful to me as participant in a clinical trial?
Would it be useful to me as the friend or family member of a person looking into clinical research as treatment option?
What additional features and/or fixes could make this better?