In 2022, Luna prioritized quality research, privacy, and community. We launched a number of studies with partner organizations, established Community Driven Innovation™, and shared our thoughts on the changing dynamics surrounding health privacy. Looking ahead, Luna reflects on the previous year to predict the important trends of 2023.
Privacy and Trust Concerns Grow in Research
Dawn Barry, Luna president and founder
Unfortunately, the health space has lost ground in consumer trust, with growing criticism in areas like pandemic response, mRNA vaccines, data surveillance and selling, and cyber breaches involving medical information. This lack of trust could further hinder people’s involvement with research, especially as the industry looks to incorporate digitalization — through real-world data, decentralized clinical trials and wearables — into next-generation trial designs. To move forward, we need to get back to basics on human trust. We need to be transparent, consistent, clear in our communications, inclusive and ethical. In other words, we need to do what’s right.
Acknowledging that individuals should control the research use of their data is only a starting point. Embracing modern data privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA is another meaningful step in demonstrating respect for study participants.
Labor-Shortage Crisis in Health Care
Joe Beery, Luna chief executive officer
The healthcare worker shortage is a significant worldwide concern, and what’s also embedded in this challenge is that many of our most experienced doctors also operate as lead researchers for new medicines and therapies. We need to ensure the funnel for vital research that feeds innovation is protected and that this population of professionals is well taken care of.
Ian Terry, Luna senior user experience researcher
Measuring patient-reported outcomes is key to ensuring medical interventions meet the needs of the people they aim to serve. But what about patient-reported goals, lived experiences and quality-of-life desires? In 2023, I want to see more research that starts with and fully integrates the patients’ goals and measures how those outcomes were met. In establishing a full continuum that’s centered on what patients need and want, the patients win because they ideally get something that improves their life — not something industry thought they needed — and researchers and industry establish more clinically relevant outcomes to meet, thereby de-risking their development efforts.
Balancing Life, Research, and Work
Deb Thompson, Luna vice president of operations
COVID-19 spurred the necessity of virtual work on a scale not seen before. It changed people’s perspectives on work-life balance. On the positive side, the flexibility of being able to interweave work with life means fewer missed opportunities to spend time with family, exercise, and take a breath when needed. On the negative side, missed interaction with fellow employees means more missed opportunities to brainstorm, forge bonds and connect. As always, a balance is needed to garner the best of both worlds. Why, then, do we not require the same balance with research? Tests, measurements, and doctor-patient interactions are extremely valuable to research; however, they are only one side of the story. “Real-world evidence” and “real-world data” are not things that can be fully captured in a doctor’s office or clinical site that people are forced to travel to — increasing their stress, anxiety, and other negative symptoms. What are the real lived experiences, symptoms, and behaviors of people in their normal environment? Scientists and doctors must be willing to listen to the experiences of the patients themselves; they must be willing to include data captured from patients in their normal environments. Real “real-world data” is not the electronic health record; it is the voices of the people who live with a condition. We must have REAL #LifeResearchBalance.
Scott Kahn, PhD, Luna chief information and privacy officer
De-identification of personal data has become a myth. We live in an age of re-identification because of the proliferation of data that can be collected on individuals and the power of artificial intelligence. De-identified DNA data is an oxymoron. The world must fully embrace a rights-based approach to data control that seeks targeted informed consent for personal data use. This approach is used with the EU’s GDPR, other countries and is now expanding state-by-state across the U.S.
Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data—health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more—for research.
Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.
By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.