Last Updated: July 8, 2019 1:50PM
The digital health revolution is continuing full steam ahead. Big data availability makes larger-scale population studies easier. AI and algorithmic approaches can now detect patterns the human brain would miss. Digital tools add efficiencies across industries, including healthcare. Now, four key tools show promise in simplifying the clinical trial process and expanding access for patients, regardless of their location.
Here’s a look at four digital tools helping the clinical trial process.
According to PwC, nearly half of the people in the US own a wearable, mostly in the form of a fitness band. The use of wearables in clinical trials has become commonplace—so much so that wearable rankings for clinical trial managers exist based on accessibility of data and ability to link data to a specific patient.
Wearables offer a low-effort option for patient screening pre-enrollment and for tracking patient health and behaviors. For example, if a study depends on patients’ completion of a diary, it thus relies on participants’ ability to follow through on that task. But by using a wearable device to collect data automatically, participants can go about their day as they normally would. They don’t have to remember to actively record measurements like their heart rate or minutes spent exercising. As an added benefit, this automated method of measurement may decrease a trial participant’s sense of being observed. This could result in less behavioral change from participants.
The massive amount of data these wearables generate also feeds one of the hottest tools in healthcare: artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, can impact every single part of the clinical trial phase. For example, algorithms can analyze patient populations and suggest health factors to track. They can test theoretical molecules against disease vectors. What’s more, they can analyze the likelihood that certain participants will complete a trial, assess the results of studies, and even help with the translation of those results to broadcast them around the globe. Massive amounts of data make this possible. As electronic health records (EHRs) and wearables become increasingly connectable, the application of AI can allow each patient to get a more complete, personalized view of their health.
AI also powers many of the apps that are increasingly critical for clinical trial management and administration.
A digital-first approach to healthcare is perhaps most obvious on the screen of a smartphone. There, you can (literally) hold your health in your hands. Forget transferring your medical record via big file folders; now, with just a few clicks, all your doctors can see your medical history, read your prescription list, and analyze your health trends. The eminently portable nature of apps makes patient-trial matching and patient-reported outcomes much more easily accessible. This is especially true for patients in remote areas, who might otherwise be unable to participate in clinical trials. Pharma organizations, biotech companies, and doctors can all communicate with patients and potential trial participants electronically via apps. That can save time and money on commutes and can simplify reminders for any type of trial participant.
Once patients have finished using their mobile health apps, they can easily switch to social media in order to share their experiences. There, their openness and network involvement can be a goldmine for the clinical trial world.
Social media’s inherent connectivity opens myriad possibilities for trial recruiters, especially those working with rare diseases. It is also a convenient vehicle for educating both trial participants and other patient communities. As a platform for educational content, the importance of social media—especially to the millennial generation—can’t be overlooked. According to PwC, 40 percent of consumers say social media content affects the way they manage their health, and 90 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds would trust medical information shared by their peers.
Tracking social media conversations about a drug or trial can also provide insights patients don’t think to share with their doctors or trial managers. This sort of real-world evidence is critical to maintaining safety and is sometimes required by oversight organizations. For this reason, compliance efforts may require social media pharmacovigilance.
With the benefits of big data and new ways of communicating digitally come increasingly strict compliance hurdles. Fortunately, you can find a knowledgeable partner who can help, so your clinical trial can benefit from the latest in technological advances while you rest assured that it remains ethically and legally sound. Learn more at Lionbridge Life Sciences.