According to a meta analysis across 85 longitudinal studies, one third of subjects in clinical trials are lost to attrition within 36 months.

This creates a significant challenge in successfully tracking, locating and following-up of subjects and indirectly poses a threat to the validity of findings.

In the summer of 2010, Archie Galbraith, ex-CEO of Calance and Dr. David Farabee, Principal Investigator, UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Program met for lunch in Los Angeles.

During the conversation, Dr. Farabee shared his frustrations about losing more than one-third of subjects in longitudinal studies. Other issues also arise with standard subject payments:

  • No mechanism for instant reward for positive actions
  • Use it or lose it gift cards are not widely accepted
  • Administrative burdens on the study for securing cash or cash equivalent gift cards
  • Social stigma associated with food stamps and other gift certificates

In the brainstorming discussions that followed, a hypothesis was formed – if the researchers could maintain contact with the research subjects and incentivize them at the end of the phone interview, it will increase the follow-up rates and retention.

With this in mind the Calance and UCLA ISAP team developed the rechargeable incentive card (RIC) payment system. The RIC system is designed to pay subjects immediately and reinforce monthly contacts to update locator information. Funded in part by the NIH under the SBIR program, Calance and UCLA built a system that balances the privacy requirements for clinical studies and stringent banking regulations.

RIC provides researchers and interviewers a secured system to track subjects, update locater information and easily provide incentives.

Calance’s deep expertise in the payment cards industry, coupled with experience in healthcare technology and HIPAA, allowed us to overcome the challenge of complying with banking regulations (anti-money laundering and Patriot Act) yet maintaining the privacy concerns of the subjects.

RICCalance partnered with the industry leader to provide custom payment cards (MasterCard or Visa) to the researchers. The RIC system connects to existing study databases and secured banking infrastructure to create a simple to use, web system to manage subjects and incentives with a touch of a button.

RIC exerience surveyIn the pilot study conducted at UCLA, UC Irvine, Pepperdine University and a leading Clinical Research Organization, over a period, subjects rated RIC better than Gift Cards, Money Orders and Food stamps.


  • An intuitive web application designed for researchers and clinics involved in studies with human subjects. The application has been designed in collaboration with researchers involved with clinical studies.
  • Automates the tracking and locating of subjects and the administration of incentives.
  • Integrated IVR system allows the subjects to call a toll free number and complete location information updates -> automated incentive transfer.
  • Brings together key elements in human study administration that are currently managed in isolation – subject engagement, subject tracking, follow-up events, and incentives.
  • RIC offers immediate association between action and reward
  • RIC can differentia the monetary value of the reward for each act.
  • MasterCard/Visa branded custom cards are widely accepted
  • Rule based calendar generation for follow-up and incentives calculations
  • Industry standard security includes 128 bit encryption and double factor authentication to enforce fiscal security and audit.
  • Support for Filemaker, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, ProstegeSQL and Oracle.

Downloads: Keeping Substance Abusers Engaged in Longitudinal Studies: Do Immediate Incentives Matter? a case study by Jason Grossman, Stacy Calhoun, David Farabee, Robert Veliz

Intellectual Property:


  • Linux, Apache, J2EE/Spring framework, MySQL, rule engine.
  • Additional databases supported: Filemaker, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, ProstegeSQL and Oracle
  • IVR Integration: Verizon IVR Cloud
  • Financial APIs and support – a leading credit/debit card processing firm in the US

Need more information? Contact me via email at gaurav at kinatus dot com

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