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3 Min Read

Spotlight on: Dr Clare Palmer, Director of Evidence Generation

15 Feb 2023

We’re shining a spotlight on our Director of Evidence Generation, Dr Clare Palmer, who will be attending DTx West 2023 in San Mateo, California on 22-24 February.

We talked to Clare about her role at ieso and what the next year will hold for mental healthcare.

Hi Clare. Can you tell us about your background and your role at ieso?

I joined ieso’s Evidence & Impact Team in May 2022 after a 10-year career in Neuroscience and Mental Health research across the UK and US. Most recently, I was working at the University of California San Diego as part of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study – one of the largest National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded studies in adolescent neuroscience. Working on this project, I discovered the potential for “big data” to transform our understanding of human behaviour. I then left the sun and surf behind to move to ieso where I could leverage this experience in an industry setting within a company dedicated to using data-driven insights to develop new, innovative treatment programmes for mental health.

In my current role as Director of Evidence Generation, I lead the design and development of our clinical testing programme to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of our digital products. I’ve used my experience of rigorous scientific research to establish a robust capability for in-house clinical testing of our digital products. Conducting ethical and responsible research is very important to me. We have developed independent governance and accountability processes to ensure that all of our research is conducted with the highest ethical, clinical, scientific and data privacy standards.

Why is evidence generation important?

Evidence generation for digital therapeutics, often through clinical trials, is essential for regulators to authorise market access. However, our patients and customers (e.g. healthcare providers) need evidence beyond this. We have a responsibility to prove that our products really work for our users in the “real-world” outside of a controlled research environment, and that these products can provide health economic value within the wider healthcare system.

My goal is to create a holistic and varied clinical development programme in which data is generated in different contexts with diverse users. This will enable us to build the most engaging and effective products for everyone and have the biggest impact on the mental healthcare landscape.

What interests you about mental healthcare?

Across the mental health field over the past 20 years, there have been some amazing advances in mental healthcare, yet mental health is still an enigma. We are still very poor at being able to predict who will respond well to treatment and who won’t. Two people with a diagnosis of Depression may experience very different symptoms and have different outcomes following treatment – and it is likely that one of those people will not respond to treatment at all.

One thing that really excites me, and is something we’re researching at ieso, is how we can use data from hundreds and thousands of people to learn about how different people experience mental health problems and how they respond to different treatments. From this we hope to generate data-driven hypotheses about which treatments will work best for a specific person first time. This is a hugely exciting prospect that has the potential to revolutionise mental healthcare.

What mental health topics do you believe will be most prevalent in the US and UK this year?

Across both the UK and US, there are biases in who accesses mental healthcare and whether that healthcare is effective. This is, in part, due to the lack of representation from underserved groups in clinical research. Initiatives to encourage greater diversity and inclusion in clinical research have increased in recent years; however, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that many individuals from underserved groups do not want to participate in clinical research because they do not trust in the systems upholding that research – and justifiably so based on the historic maltreatment of particular minoritised racial and ethnic groups in scientific research.  

The increase in the number of digital products for mental healthcare offers a great opportunity to increase access to mental healthcare and reduce health inequalities; however, if the clinical research underpinning those products is not inclusive then those products will not be able to fulfil their potential. This has been a topic in mental health research for the past few years and I think it will continue to be even more prevalent this year. Engaging diverse communities to earn people’s trust will be invaluable for the mental health research field.

And finally, how do you think ieso will contribute to the future of mental health?

Everyone who works at ieso is striving to improve mental healthcare for as many people as possible. We have been doing this for many years as one of the largest online psychological therapy services to the NHS in the UK. With our ongoing scientific research and the development of our digital products, we will innovate mental healthcare solutions that increase access to more effective, evidence-based treatment for all.

If you’re also attending DTx West and would like to meet Clare and learn more about her work with ieso, get in touch at events@iesohealth.com.

For this spotlight interview, we speak to Dr Clare Palmer about her role as Director of Evidence Generation.