The ProofPilot Blog - Design, Launch & Participant in Research Studies

Now ProofPilot Supports In-Person Study Activities Too

Run studies that include the efficiency of anytime anywhere participant self-service AND real-life human interactions in health and wellness.

At ProofPilot, We’ve always had a mission to enable studies “in the real world.” Like a lot of folks in the venture-backed tech world, naively, that used to mean leveraging technology to make everything as self-service and automated as possible. Our initial set of features made it easy to design research studies and launch an experience to participants where they never had to engage with another human.

That self-service fully distributed model provided some efficiencies. But humans are social beings. Culture, environment, behavior and social interactions have a significant impact on health outcomes. Most advances in biomedical science requires a human expert to administer, or at least monitor, a novel treatment. And, even in the best scenarios, sometimes a person’s iPhone or Android just isn’t working.

Today, we’re releasing the first, in what will likely be a never-ending set of features leveraging technology to support in-person interactions in research studies.

We believe that most research studies in the future will include both distributed self-service activities and components that require in-person service. Research study participants will expect to transition back and forth between in-person and various online channels seamlessly.

As of today, ProofPilot supports that future.

Why In-Person Study Support is So Important

A study professional at Totah Behavioral Health in Farmington, NM preps for a sweat lodge session, part of an alcohol and drug treatment study using ProofPilot’s in-persons study management tools.

When we look at technology innovation, it’s the solutions that use technology to enable real world experiences that have the biggest impact on our lives. Uber and Lyft for a transportation. Yelp, FourSquare and Google Maps for restaurant discovery. That Starbucks app to manage your coffee addiction … These solutions brought efficiencies and convenience to real life. There’s no question that’s a goal with our new features as well. However, the needs in research are based on science, access, and expertise as well.

Social impacts on health. We know that social interactions and relationships have a profound impact on health outcomes. For those of us who run, we all know the impact on performance when we run with a new partner who is slightly faster than us. While self-massage is good and all, and massage chairs are nice, no one will argue that a massage done by a professional masseuse is superior.

The technology access factor. Sometimes technology can be an impediment to participation in studies. Adding an interpersonal interaction can overcome that barrier. Earlier in my career, I helped develop a training video for new case-workers serving the homeless. The experience had a profound effect on me. Even ten years ago, I was surprised by how many individuals experiencing homelessness had access to mobile phones. However, just because the hardware was available, didn’t mean it worked. Often the phones were out of batteries, and service turned off because bills weren’t paid. Caseworkers used their own phones to help connect needy individuals with services when their phone didn’t work. Truth be told, even at ProofPilot when we tested our self-service functionality, more than once — one of us was left out. We forgot our phones at home.

Highly technical nature of some treatments. A lot of what we do to promote health requires an in-person interaction with an expert. Medicine is highly technical. While patients are more empowered with innovation than ever before, we’re not at a point yet where a patient can administer chemotherapy themselves without any training or oversight. We are not at a point where artificial intelligence can analyze and make determinations. You need human experts.

First Release of In-Person Study Support

Almost all study task functionality on ProofPilot can be identified as an “in-person” activity by making a simple click in the task setup process. The focus of these new features is a new study professional experience in our progressive web app. Our first release includes three key foundational functionalities to support in person activities.

A study professional types in a telephone number or e-mail address to begin the registration process.

Enroll participants in person: ProofPilot supports lots of recruitment techniques, including social media sharing tools. Now, we’ve created new functionality that allows any study professional to enroll a participant in a research study just by typing in that potential participant’s mobile phone number or e-mail address. The experience is meant to minimize the awkwardness of typical study professional data entry and provide a seamless transition for the participant to continue any in-person activities on their device(s).

At any point in the study, a study professional, with participant permission, help that participant complete any open study task, including those only appropriate for medical experts.

Serve Participants in person: Whether it’s class, event, home-visit, or other activity during a study, the new “Serve” feature allows study professionals to enter a participant’s e-mail or telephone number and complete any open study tasks with that participant present (in person or on the phone). There will be few needs to pass devices back and forth, and study professionals can even help those with the most limited technology access complete open study tasks and earn rewards.

Enroll and complete serve large groups by SMS text message: In-Person is more than just a one-on-one interaction. Communicating a URL to a large group of people can be a pain. Giving instructions to download an app — impossible. ProofPilot allows potential participants to begin an enrollment process by typing in a telephone number and special code. The potential participant receives a URL to continue the process. Likewise, participants engaged in a group based activity (where it would be logistically difficult to serve every participant individually by study professionals) can complete certain kinds of in-person study tasks by sending an SMS with a special code.

Nearly any task template on ProofPilot can be set up as an in-person task. Just select “Proctored Task” in the Who & Where step of creating a study task. Any study professional you’ve added to your study as a collaborator can then switch to the “Conduct” component of their ProofPilot experience and serve participants anywhere.

For more information see the presentation.

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