Opyl preps key March quarter launch as the clinical trial recruitment market heats up
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Special Report: The company has announced three new hires as it looks to capitalise on a unique market opportunity.
Digital health company Opyl (ASX:OPL) has been ticking a number of boxes as it gears up for the launch of its proprietary clinical trial recruitment platform in the March quarter.
And CEO Michelle Gallaher says it has been all about “getting the balance right” as the company executes on its platform rollout.
A highlight of OPL’s latest quarterly result was the company achieved net positive cash flows from operations of $88,000 – a crucial performance metric for ASX small caps.
Gallaher caught up with Stockhead following the Q4 update to discuss the company’s journey so far and the road ahead.
“For me it was important to achieve the cash flow positive milestone — ideally before we move into the stage of accelerating our clinical trial recruitment offering and company growth,” Gallaher said.
“It gives confidence to our shareholders, the market and clients to be able to see that, and also for our team inside the business. It illustrates that the company is managing its cash flow whilst continuing the development of exciting new platforms which will enable us to rapidly growth the company’s revenue and therefore company.”
“We’ve been able to develop the technology on a pretty lean budget, so it’s been an impressive balancing act in terms of ensuring revenue growth and cash-flow sustainability with the right foundations, but also progressing the technology without starving development and sticking to our R&D budget. The research and development tax incentive and Victorian government COVID grants has been important in achieving the balance.”
Opyl is now preparing for the rollout of its precision clinical trial recruitment web-based interface – an AI-based platform for searching and matching the right patients with the right clinical trials anywhere in the world. This will complement the existing targeted social media recruitment service they already offer the market.
Gallaher said the global clinical trial recruitment market is “hotting up significantly, with some smart tech starting to emerge”.
For example, Sydney-based private clinical trial recruitment company HealthMatch recently raised $18m, and Opyl is positioning to be “one of its major competitors”, Gallaher said.
As a trial recruitment platform, Opyl’s technology specialises in AI-based deep listening and analysis of social media data in its search for patient populations primed and interested in clinical research opportunities.
It’s a key feature that differentiates the Opyl offering from competitors, many of whom are either passive web-based portals or who use AI to search hospital records.
Opyl’s web-enabled solution that will launch in March invites patients to self-register an interest in trials, with the ability to search a disease, condition or injury. Patients will then be matched by the Opyl algorithm to any trial open, anywhere in the world.
“If 80 per cent of the global population are active on social media, it’s an obvious place to go looking for patients, but understanding social media and how the channels individually work is key in being able to effectively use this channel as a recruitment base,” Gallaher said.
“These days understanding patient and carer behaviours on social is a sophisticated space. And thus, we’re using AI to identify the patterns and language so we can deliver precision recruitment solutions.”
As an indication of Opyl’s momentum in the wake of its strong cash-flow result, the company has also made three senior staff hires to drive its scale strategy.
Two social media specialists – in digital marketing and analytics respectively – have joined the team, along with an executive-level hire, Dejan Toracki, for business development.
“Dejan is going to be responsible for all commercial activities, particularly driving sales and channel partners, really getting the recruitment offering up and running,” Gallaher said.
“It was important for us to get the right skills into the business late last year and embedded into the planning stages of the launch strategy for the clinical trial recruitment platform. As our business scales up, it converges at the same time with our ability and capacity to service it.”
It leaves Opyl well positioned to strike while the iron is hot, bringing a unique tech offering to an underserved market that has global scale-up capabilities.
“For us it’s about finding strategies that can give us scale at pace, and we want scale fast because it’s a competitive market and it’s changing very rapidly,” Gallaher said.
“It’s one of the most exciting areas in digital health, because we know only around 20 per cent of clinical trials actually recruit on time and on budget. Poor recruitment is a huge expensive problem that needs to be solved.”
“And with the use of AI-based technology utilising social media channels, we think we can bring a higher level of precision recruitment to the clinical trial industry.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Opyl, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.