50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2018

Bringing Clinical Research Direct to Clinical Health Care: Elligo Health Research, a Health Care Company, Plans to Continue to Enhance Tech Solutions that Improve Efficiency


Our growth and success can be directly attributed to our enthusiasm for involving the opinions of the physicians, patients and drug developers we work with every day: John Potthoff

Despite their close relationship, clinical research and medical care have become separated. The purpose of clinical research is to generate generalizable knowledge useful for future patients, whereas medical care aims to promote the well-being of individual patients. The evolution towards patient-centered medicine and patient-oriented research, and the gradual standardization of medicine are contributing to closer ties between clinical research and medical practice. But the integration of both activities requires addressing important ethical and methodological challenges.

Elligo Health Research provides the only platform that brings clinical research to health care practices and accelerates the development of new pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device products and therapies.

Elligo was established in 2016 and is headquartered in Austin, Texas.

John Potthoff, Elligo Health Research CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

What does Elligo Health Research do?

At Elligo, it is our mission to bring together and empower clinical research organizations, sponsors, physicians and patients to improve clinical trial access and efficiency. We developed the Goes Direct® approach to streamline these efforts, enabling research as a care option in physician practices and resulting in more efficient and cost-effective trials for drug development sponsors. With our Goes Direct® approach, patients gain access to new treatment options, physicians avoid the cost and effort of building and managing in-house clinical research infrastructure, and sponsors bring new therapies to market faster. As big data dynamics change, and new technologies and services arise, we continue to develop our approach to meet the evolving needs of the drug discovery industry and close the gap between research and practice.

Why was the company started?

We started Elligo Health Research to address the growing issue of patient recruitment and retention for clinical trials. Through market research, we knew that more than 97 percent of physicians and patients were not participating in research and that patients needed an advocate in the process to give them a voice and improve their access to trials. Listening to physician and patient concerns became our priority. We discovered that physician practices who were conducting research on their own were getting bogged down in the details and some were not even attempting research because the initial investment barrier was too high. We discovered patients were not participating in research for several reasons: because they did not know about the opportunities available for their condition, they were not able to travel to research sites and they simply did not feel comfortable leaving their trusted physician. We wanted to offer a patient-centric model that provided patients with treatment closer to home and under the care of their physician.

What kind of feedback have you received from your clients and how do you respond?

We see different reactions from each of our target markets. The pharmaceutical, biotechnology and clinical research organizations we work with are enthusiastic and quick to adopt our offerings. Our physician practices bring a bit more skepticism to the table — mostly due to prior unsatisfactory experiences. But once we explain our model and what we are going to do to take care of their needs, they become excited.

This culture of communication — listening to feedback and innovating solutions for our market — is how we have been able to make such a large impact so quickly. Our growth and success can be directly attributed to our enthusiasm for involving the opinions of the physicians, patients and drug developers we work with every day.

Most important, however, is making sure our patients have good experiences while participating in trials. We recently partnered with HealthiVibe, an organization that gathers patient insight to optimize clinical trials, so that we can analyze and respond to patient feedback during a research study.

What are the factors that make your brand stand out from the competition?

We are continuously innovating and seeking new partnerships and relationships. We are the only group that is bringing clinical trials directly to real-world community physicians and their patients. We are not just providing a technical solution; we are continually working to improve the quality of clinical trials by streamlining the process for everyone involved. Our Goes Direct® approach provides the personnel, processes, technology and infrastructure necessary to bring clinical research direct to clinical health care, expanding clinical research opportunities beyond central research sites. We work to identify and prepare sites to conduct research, then help with the day-to-day tasks — from arranging appointments to collecting data and submitting paperwork — so the physicians can focus on patient care.

How do you maintain your customers’ trust and loyalty?

We always focus on our relationships, as mentioned above. We maintain a personal connection with each of our clients and are always checking in to ensure we have delivered what they expect. Our customers also benefit from our pay-for-performance model where they only pay for enrolled patients. Essentially, we take the risk out of the equation for them, further strengthening their trust in our approach.

How does your company contribute to the competitive global IT platform at large?

We are bringing our partners and their technologies together to further improve the clinical research industry. For example, we recently automated our trial matching process through our acquisition of ePatientFinder’s Clinical Trial Exchange technology platform and referring practice network. This will enable us to expand our Research Ready™ site network — a network of physician practices that we have certified as having the capabilities and processes in place to conduct research.

We are also in the process of developing a proprietary technology platform that will become a central location for research activities like confirming sites, collecting data and contacting patients. The IntElligo Research Stack™ technology integrates with any health care workflow, automating and standardizing processes from the very beginning of research studies. In fact, it’s the only system built with submission readiness and regulatory compliance in mind. Not only does it accelerate data collection and submission for sites, but because it’s a closed system, it ensures the continuity of study data, making tasks like data aggregation, cross-study analysis and regulatory submission simple.

As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

In a few years, we hope to have made a noticeable impact on the convenience of research studies. Our goal is to provide every patient access to clinical research as a care option for their condition. We will continue to enhance our technology solutions and add more therapeutic areas and geographies until everyone has that opportunity.

John Potthoff: A Brief Background

A respected veteran with nearly 25 years in the clinical research services industry, John Potthoff, Ph.D., has directed major business for a number of companies.

Dr. Potthoff’s career began with a series of executive roles involving increasing responsibility at PPD. After seven years, he left to become the founder and CEO of Tanistry Inc., a contract research organization focused on the central nervous system. After selling Tanistry to INC Research in 2001, he joined INC Research, a career step that culminated in a COO role and included seven acquisitions and the sale of the company to private equity investors in 2010.

Following his success at INC Research, Dr. Potthoff assumed the position of CEO at Theorem Clinical Research in 2011. In four years, he doubled its revenue, sales, backlog and earnings. Theorem Clinical Research was sold to Chiltern International in 2015, resulting in a record ROI for its private equity owner.

Dr. Potthoff is currently on the board of directors of Advarra, Chembio and Synteract.

“As big data dynamics change, and new technologies and services arise, we continue to develop our approach to meet the evolving needs of the drug discovery industry and close the gap between research and practice.”