January 23rd, 2019

Who Benefits from Introducing Digital Health into Clinical Trials?

digital health clinical trials

Patients, physicians, and researchers all have something to gain from digital health. Here’s how CROs and sponsors can overcome key obstacles to integrate connected technology into clinical trials.

Despite advancements in healthcare technology, clinical trials have continued to struggle with the challenges of patient enrollment and retention.

Digital health has the potential to remove recruitment barriers and expand trial enrollment to new patients. The Internet of Medical Things, for example, has the capability to connect smart medical devices and rapidly transmit patient data, therefore making clinical studies more efficient and cost-effective.

By improving the quality of patient care and reducing the time it takes to bring new treatments to the market, the IoMT and other digital health initiatives offer meaningful benefits for both researchers and patients. If CROs and sponsors can overcome a few common obstacles, clinical trials are likely to reap the rewards of digital health integration.

A Better Way to Conduct Clinical Trials

Smart sensors, devices, and wearables can gather biometric data, analyze it, and transmit essential insights back to clinical researchers. The IoMT offers real-time tracking of patient data, enabling researchers to build a holistic view of patient care. This technology creates opportunities for CROs and sponsors to conduct virtual trials and monitor patients remotely. Plus, the increased flexibility of digital healthcare allows for faster patient enrollment and reduced trial costs.

The advantages of the IoMT carry over into the patient experience as well. Patients benefit from more personalized, data-driven care and the ability to participate in trials from the comfort of their own homes. Digital technology also provides patients with outlets to communicate with their physicians and receive feedback on their trial results.

Finally, patients who would not otherwise be able to participate in research studies – those who live too far from an investigator site or cannot travel due to limited mobility, for example – are able to access potentially life-saving treatments through virtual trials and remote monitoring.

Challenges to Implementation

Though the efficiency of digital health promises to boost patient satisfaction, there are some obstacles CROs and sponsors may face when attempting to integrate this technology into clinical trials. To begin with, the IoMT has the potential to collect vast stores of data, but it’s important to make sure that this information is well-integrated and useful in terms of the trial objective. For example, as much healthcare data is siloed and inaccessible, it can be difficult for providers to manage patients with multiple morbidities.

It’s also essential for digital health technology to comply with relevant privacy legislation like HIPAA or GDPR standards, if you’re conducting trials in Europe. Similarly, unlike information collected from medical-grade devices, data generated from consumer wearable devices is not regulated. This means that trials need to set clear rules and requirements for using these devices in order to protect patient information.

While many wearable device and IoMT pilot programs have been successful, as a whole clinical trials have been slow to adopt these new technologies. Therefore, in order to make a substantial, lasting change for both patients and providers, CROs and sponsors need to build scalable and sustainable digital health initiatives.   

As the accuracy and usability of these platforms increase, clinicals trials can expect to see an expansion of transformative medical technology. These innovations are likely to remove barriers and increase the accessibility of healthcare, ultimately boosting trial enrollment and providing treatment to the patients who need it most.