From months to minutes: OASYS NOW streamlines patient recruitment for clinical trials

Netherlands startup OASYS NOW has developed an AI-powered platform that connects healthcare providers and patients, speeding up drug development.
From months to minutes: OASYS NOW streamlines patient recruitment for clinical trials

Bringing new drugs to market is no easy task. 80 per cent of the clinical trials with patients are either delayed or cancelled because they cannot find the right patients in time. This means many potentially life-changing — or life-saving — drugs don't see the light of day because researchers cannot find patients to participate in the drug trials. 

OASYS NOW is a Netherlands startup which I interviewed last year when it launched a platform that connects major academic medical centres, hospitals, and patient organisations to share information about the latest treatments conducted through medical trials throughout Europe. 

Their first product, the GRIP app, empowers and engages patient communities to find the most suitable treatments and clinical trials.

Their second product helps healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies. It offers a way to bring researchers in pharmaceutical companies —including trial sites, study sponsors, clinical research organisations (CROs) —  and doctors closer, specifically helping doctors identify and recruit eligible patient cohorts from their existing datasets.

I spoke to Nima Salami, CEO and co-founder of OASYS NOW, to learn more.

The company is currently focused on cardiology, rare diseases and multiple chronic diseases. It has developed an AI-powered clinical trial patient identification and recruitment platform for hospitals, doctors, and research nurses assigned to find patients eligible for medical research studies.

It meta-crawls research trial criteria and provides healthcare providers with checklists that can be cross-matched with EHRs to find trial options. This automates a large chunk of the time spent trawling through research eligibility criteria for individual studies. 

Notably, OASYS NOW was built on a privacy-first foundation. Its technology is designed to be compliant and is thus fully GDPR compliant. An external party continuously monitors its ISO27001 compliance.

A business model for medical research trial participants

Most hospitals don't have a large budget for medical research, explained  Salami:

"So, making a business model around hospitals is not viable. 

This platform targets CROs and pharmaceutical companies that need to bring new drugs to market and currently, lose a lot of money due to research delays.”

CROs, trial sites, and sponsors benefit from sped-up recruitment timelines by tapping into a waiting room of EHR pre-screened patients. 

They also save money by bringing drugs to market faster. 

According to Salami:

"Bringing a new drug to market is a financially daunting task for pharmaceutical companies, with the average cost reaching a staggering $2.8 billion per medication.

A significant portion of this expense, roughly 40 per cent of clinical trial costs, stems from identifying and recruiting the right patients. This patient recruitment bottleneck poses a major challenge for the industry."

Furthermore, delays in clinical trials are costly. Industry data indicates that each day of delay translates to additional expenses exceeding €8 million. Compounding the problem, an alarming 80% of clinical trials experience delays.

"These numbers are completely mind-boggling. The costs trickle down to the cost of the medicine the patient purchases including insurance and government costs. We can break the bottleneck and get medication to market faster." 

The OASYS NOW platform has the potential to speed up patient pre-screening from months to near real-time. It can process deep patient records (structured and unstructured) to provide high-precision matching between patients and clinical studies. 

Healthcare professionals can spend more time with patients than on boring, repetitive manual tasks behind a computer. 

According to Salami, being a platform that was not only privacy-first but also accessible across multiple sites and locations simultaneously:

"How do you make an AI algorithm and ensure that no sensitive data gets leaked into the model, and how do you host it only on the servers of hospitals?"

The startup has developed an algorithm that can be federated across multiple sites, which makes cross-institutional research possible. Most patients undergo drug trials at their local hospital or healthcare setting. 

Salami shared that smaller institutions and those in more remote areas are not disadvantaged.

"Organisations can collaborate and use each other's knowledge, which makes a big difference."

And while it's in its early days, OASYS NOW's new platform has been a hit with its target audience.

Hospitals and research sites typically receive payments or grants from pharmaceutical companies and sponsors for enrolling patients in clinical drug trials.

Salami explains:

"Everyone wants to be at the cutting edge of research. There's pressure to publish, but hospitals and clinical sites also compete to see who has the most patient recruitment success.

When we demo it with doctors, they say it looks like magic initially. It not only frees up time but can also provide anonymised shareable data so that the hospital board can understand how many trials they are running, the progress of patient recruitment, and how they're performing.”

OASYS NOW's focus on privacy and accessibility across institutions paves the way for a more collaborative and efficient clinical trial landscape.

By removing the patient recruitment bottleneck, OASYS NOW helps accelerate the delivery of life-changing treatments to those who need them most.

Lead image: CDC.

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