What does the patient voice actually sound like? PRA is answering that question by studying how patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers talk about their conditions, treatments, and experiences online. Turns out, it’s vastly different from the way the healthcare industry talks.
PRA’s Social Intelligence & Communities team collects public data using social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as blogs and brand websites to better understand how patients describe their conditions, challenges, and frustrations. This information helps identify the type of information patients are seeking, as well as behavioral trends and activities. The team’s Deb Piaseczynski and Michael Durwin were selected to share how social listening helps create a more holistic view of the patient experience and detect adverse events that could impact public health at the 2020 PHUSE/FDA Data Science Innovation Challenge.
Adverse events (AEs) are different from side effects—secondary effects of a drug or treatment that are detected during clinical trials—which are listed on every approved drug. For example, an approved drug’s list of known side effects may include dizziness, loss of appetite, and insomnia. If a patient taking that drug experiences anything that’s not on the list of side effects, that is considered an adverse event. AEs can range from mild to severe. Once they are detected, they must be reported to the governing body.
In the past, monitoring for AEs on social channels was done by a live person on a daily basis. If and when an AE was detected, the message would be put through a triage situation where it would be evaluated and pushed through the appropriate government hurdles. This process was time-consuming and tedious.
Today, PRA has a solution that uses artificial intelligence to listen and monitor social channels on a global scale, 24/7—eliminating the need for a dedicated individual. Our solution allows us to listen in on specific, publicly posted comments on company Facebook pages, Twitter mentions, and even blogs and brand websites. Anywhere people can post, we have the tools to see exactly how people are talking about a specific drug or indication.
Detecting and monitoring AEs is tricky because they can be absolutely anything. Our job is to figure out how to account for things that aren’t known side effects but may trigger us to look for more information. Leveraging the known side effects for a drug, we can filter conversations to see only what’s relevant, as well as how people are actually talking. Patients aren’t saying they have tremendous joint inflammation—they’re saying that their hands and feet hurt.
Through social listening, we see how and where patient communities talk on social media. We know how these social platforms work and how people interact on them—which differs from platform to platform. Our team’s expertise in social media, combined with PRA’s therapeutic expertise and data capabilities, enables us to focus on patients and caregivers. We can see who they talk to, what motivates them, what potential barriers might stop them from seeking treatment, and the role that a particular drug plays in their lives. This information gives us a deeper, more holistic view of the patient and helps us determine how to best facilitate conversation between the brand and the patient.
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