Data Cubed uses gaming technology to facilitate human interaction in clinical trials: Making a Game out of It


Basing its approach on popular computer games, Data Cubed has created a platform that could “increase patient engagement in clinical research,” according to an article by Melissa Fassbender in In 2016 when Data Cubed (D3) was founded, the company took advantage of several trends -- structured big data, mobile technologies, patient-centric care, and social networks, the article explained.

Dr. Paul Glimcher, CEO and founder, and co-founder Dr. Alex Pentland, tried to understand the challenges and opportunities of digital health and form Data Cubed was as a commercial offshoot of The Human Data Project at New York University. That project, headed by Glimcher, is a 20-year study of 10,000 New Yorkers designed to collect hundreds of types of real-time data. Data Cubed is working with numerous drug companies and contract research organizations (CROs) to use its digital health tools to increase patient engagement.

The team settled on a set of requirements including the need for gamification. Glimcher said that the tools needed to be “configurable and cost-effective, all with an eye towards academia and clinical research. To be patient-focused, the company utilizes “the design and the lures of gaming technology.”

The company’s designers studied various games to apply “the lures of bestselling gaming technology to the needs of health care research,” according to Glimcher, in order to “improve patient retention, compliance and adherence across clinical trials.”

Saying that 25 percent of the company employees are designers, he added, “To keep a diverse sample of people engaged over time, interactions must be fun and frictionless, attractive and ‘sticky.’ We invest in beautiful and functional design to bring patients and sponsors the best possible user experience at a fraction of the cost of other technology providers.”

The five core products from Data Cubed include customizable apps, eDiaries, games to encourage patient reported outcomes (PRO) and a cross-platform app to capture social, behavioral and environmental data. “With colorful apps, engaging games, illuminating surveys, and keen wearable and in-home sensors, Data Cubed collects accurate real-world data that is relevant and actionable, taking study participants on a journey, with reinforcements to drive task completion through incentives and rewards,” Glimcher explained.

According to the company, across the clinical lifecycle, the devices can clock social media interactions, stress, financial transactions, and air quality, among other data points. Clients can select scales and tasks to measure cognitive control, memory, abstract reasoning, spending behavior, nutrition, and more, Glimcher added, saying, “Our digital tools exponentially increase touch-points with participants to nearly 4,000 hours of data – a 75-fold increase in real-world site-collected data.”

Glimcher concluded, “Our early clients and tell us that they want solutions that improve the consistency of collected data, that offer patients flexibility to use their own devices, that reduce burden on study participants and that offer engaging and rewarding patient experiences.”


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