Triall is laying the groundwork for the world’s first, blockchain-enabled digital ecosystem for clinical trials. It aims to consolidate activities of clinical trial professionals around the globe and across traditional organizational boundaries, while optimizing data integrity and security. In this article, we’ll cover some of the key stakeholders, their roles, and interactions in the Triall Ecosystem.
When we started conceptualizing and designing the Triall Ecosystem 4 years ago, we immediately understood that it could not be realized alone. In fact, building a sustainable digital ecosystem for clinical trials requires the active involvement of a multi-stakeholder community that bridges the healthcare, blockchain, and crypto domains. Over the past years, we have therefore been building this Triall community. We’re excited to see that it’s growing every day.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the key stakeholders in our digital ecosystem. But first of all, let’s clear up some semantics. What do we mean when we talk about a digital ecosystem or a multi-sided platform?
Digital ecosystem? Multi-sided platform?
Those that have been following us for a while know that we use the terms multi-sided platform and digital ecosystem interchangeably. But what do we mean by them?
A multi-sided platform* (also a multi-sided market or N-sided market) brings together two or more distinct but interdependent stakeholder groups. Such platforms are of value to one stakeholder group only if the other stakeholder group or groups are also present. The platform creates value by facilitating interactions between the different groups. A multi-sided platform grows in value to the extent that it attracts more users, a phenomenon known as the network effect. The most simple example of a multi-sided platform is the credit card, linking merchants with cardholders. The key is that the platform must attract and serve all stakeholder groups simultaneously in order to create value. There’s no real value in owning a credit card that is accepted by only a handful of merchants. Vice versa, a merchant won’t feel inclined to adopt a credit card solution that has almost no cardholders.
* This definition was adapted from one of our favorite business books: ‘Business Model Generation’ by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
So how does this translate to Triall? In our multi-sided platform, clinical trial stakeholders come together to create, exchange, and capture value. First and foremost, our platform will link clinical trial professionals with clinical trial software (‘eClinical’) solution providers (e.g., Triall or a third-party vendor). These eClinical solution providers can in turn also use our platform to interact with other eClinical solution providers, infrastructure providers (e.g., blockchain platforms, cloud service providers), and blockchain experts (e.g. smart contract & application developers). As you can see, the web of interdependent groups connected by our platform has become quite complex at this point, and fully lives up to the term multi-sided.
Now let’s take a look at the concept of a digital ecosystem**, which in the context of our platform can also be called a business ecosystem. A business ecosystem is a network of organizations—including suppliers, distributors, customers, competitors, government agencies, and so on—involved in the delivery of a service through both competition and cooperation. The idea is that each entity in the ecosystem affects and is affected by the others, creating a constantly evolving relationship in which each entity must be flexible and adaptable in order to survive in the ecosystem.
** This definition was adapted from Investopedia, which describes our take on the concept quite well.
The multi-sided platform dynamics that we just described also fit perfectly within the definition of a digital ecosystem. For this reason, we’ve come to use both terms interchangeably as they both fit our vision for the industry. We strongly believe that bringing all clinical trial stakeholders together in one single ecosystem will lead to synergies and network effects that go beyond our imagination.
We’ll dedicate the rest of this article to summarizing the stakeholders that will play a key role within our ecosystem.
Key stakeholder in the Triall Ecosystem
The Triall Ecosystem is designed to serve the needs of all key stakeholders involved in clinical trials. We’ve grouped them into the following types:
All stakeholders involved in the implementation and management of clinical trials, including sponsor representatives, contract research organization staff (e.g., project managers, clinical research associates, monitors, and data managers), site staff (e.g., investigators, research nurses, and pharmacists), and other parties that want to make use of the applications offered in the Triall Ecosystem.
The organizations that provide software solutions for clinical trial operations. By connecting to the Triall Ecosystem, they can leverage blockchain-enabled data logging and authentication functionalities and other microservices, and they can offer their solutions within our multi-sided digital marketplace.
These are the research subjects (patients or healthy volunteers) that participate in clinical trials. They can be connected to the Triall ecosystem through our patient-level eHealth applications that aim to actively inform, recruit, engage, and empower this key stakeholder group throughout clinical trial lifecycles.
Organizations and individuals who provide technical services for the ecosystem and its community. They write, run, and audit smart contracts or provide specifications, applications, or APIs for systems and their users. These smart contracts, APIs, and applications provide additional functionalities for other stakeholders.
These are the organizations or individuals responsible for providing the underlying infrastructure on which the Triall Ecosystem operates, such as node operators and (cloud) storage providers. Factom’s independent Authority Node Operators*** for instance ensure network integrity by verifying data blocks and writing to a blockchain ledger. They provide strength, speed, and security to the network by adhering to a shared governance system, being fully decentralized, and running full nodes with strict hardware requirements.
6. Triall Foundation
The Triall Foundation is the non-profit organization governing the ecosystem, empowered by the Triall Community. The foundation is a public service provider that acts on behalf of the community, and is responsible for the daily operations, management, development, and maintenance of the Triall Ecosystem.
7. Triall Community
The Triall Community comprises all organizations and individuals that want to support the growth and development of the Triall Ecosystem, for instance, by participating in decision-making, panels, discussions, development, or outreaches. Community members can be part of the stakeholder groups mentioned above, but any party or individual with a genuine interest in the ecosystem is welcomed.
*** By default, Triall solutions are connected with various blockchains including the blockchain infrastructure of the Factom Protocol. Our solutions can be regarded as ‘blockchain agnostic’, since they are designed to easily integrate with other blockchain platforms.