Three questions with…


Ben James 

Chief Design Officer and Co-founder

Ben leads the product team and is responsible for the uMotif technology roadmap focusing on bringing consumer-grade technology to the life sciences industry. He co-founded uMotif in 2012 and is the mastermind behind the highly engaging Motif user interface.

In this blog, Ben provides insight into the importance of prioritizing human-centricity in the design of modern eCOA/ePRO platforms and shares his thoughts on the future growth of eCOA/ePRO.


How did your background in digital design help you create the uMotif platform and user interface?  

At uMotif, we distinguish ourselves through our focus on human-centric design. My previous experience includes work in building configurable consumer products, so I first look at challenges and design solutions from a human-use perspective not just a data-centric one—which has long been the de facto standard in the clinical trial technology industry.

Technology providers need to understand the data requirements and filter them through the human-experience lens of the user—whether that user is a trial participant, caregiver, or clinical trial investigator working at a site. My first questions are: “What do patients and their caregivers need? What do investigators and other individuals at sites need?” Those answers then guide platform and user interface design and configuration to collect the required data – an approach that helps to build and sustain engagement, accelerate data collection, and improve data quality.

How do you think eCOA/ePRO technology will change over the next year to 18 months?

During the pandemic, remote or virtual clinical trials became the norm out of necessity. We are now settling into an era of the hybrid trial, in which we will continue to see an increase in data collection using personal devices, rising patient-experience expectations, as well as new communications challenges for patients and sites.

We believe that eCOA/ePRO technology is ripe for fresh thinking and can be instrumental in addressing these challenges. uMotif is proud to be leading this charge with the first new scientifically validated innovation in eCOA/ePRO since paper instruments were deployed on smartphones.

Why do you think patient-centricity hasn’t become more of a reality, given that our industry has been using the term for many years?

The industry has paid considerable lip service to “patient centricity” over the years. To actually achieve this goal, however, you have to have patients’ input at the early stages of design and development. Without this commitment to truly understand the needs of your patients, technology or service will struggle to meet the needs of its users.

There is no substitute for interaction when it comes to gaining this insight, and many technology companies lack access to patients or dismiss its importance. uMotif has worked with patients from day one and has been extremely fortunate to have been involved in projects, studies, and workshops to understand patient needs and the unique considerations associated with specific conditions, such as Parkinson’s or epilepsy. This has ensured patient input at every phase of the design process and has allowed uMotif to develop a technology platform that is built for scale and, importantly, allows for specific configuration focusing on the needs of the patients.

We regularly see instances in which a small difference in configuration has a huge impact on patient engagement and data outcomes. You simply cannot add patient centricity as an afterthought; these fundamentally human-centered principles must be embedded in your products, processes, and wider organization from day one.

Connect with Ben on LinkedIn to arrange a meeting, or to discuss more about how uMotif’s eCOA/ePRO platform can transform patient engagement in your next study.