How a Virtual Assistant May Speed Up Medical Clinical Trials
Digital life sciences technology developers Stefanini Group and CliniOps have launched a new platform designed to accelerate and upgrade clinical trials. The platform, called Trust, uses Stefanini’s Sophie virtual assistant to aid medical researchers.
Trust is designed to make it easier to set up, run, and analyze clinical trials by digitizing and automating the process. The Sophie AI handles the automation process faster and with less potential for human error than traditional tests. The trials are completed more quickly and at a lower cost than would typically be the case. Sophie also assists the researchers more directly, interacting with users to answer questions and fetch documents across the platform. If the researchers choose, Sophie can integrate with additional datasets from within the platform or using public sources of information like the government database of clinical trials.
“Our goal at Stefanini Group is to use the latest digital technologies to transform life science business functions,” Stefanini vice president of innovation and digital business Renata Galle said in a statement. “Our TRUST platform unifies the trial process, eliminating multiple vendors and high costs to increase efficiency and improve ROI.”
Stefanini’s Sophie virtual assistant is behind the Trust platform, but the AI is not limited to helping clinical researchers. The virtual assistant, whose name is Greek for wisdom, has been a part of the company’s portfolio for a few years now, with new iterations arriving periodically. Sophie is used by businesses to run data collection and analysis, with a natural language engine able to understand and respond to conversational speech. The AI is designed to integrate with other business software as well, gathering disparate sources of information and theoretically eliminating some of the more tedious elements of a job. The same goes for customer service, as Sophie’s platform can be used by businesses who want a chatbot to talk to customers.
That function became particularly relevant during the current COVID-19 health crisis. Stefanini started offering businesses a free version of the Sophie chatbot for answering employee questions about the virus and its impact. The chatbot answers basic questions about the novel coronavirus, has news and advice for people to help them stay safe, and even updates about research for a vaccine. Sophie is part of the outpouring of new text and voice AIs released during the pandemic as a way of helping people stay informed. Some, such as Orbita, are supplying chatbots to medical care providers to help triage potential patients who may be infected. At the same time, virtual agent developers like Inference Solutions updated their AI to answer customer questions about how a business is adjusting to deal with the evolving situation. Bringing Sophie into clinical studies shows how flexible some of these tools can be, and likely portend their expanded presence in enterprise services on a more permanent basis.