In the world of healthcare, time is always of the essence. Researchers are continuously looking for new solutions to help improve patients’ well-being and ultimately save lives. The discovery process of new treatments takes an enormous amount of time and resources in order to generate good evidence to prove that they are safe and that it works. Throw in the ever increasing regulatory demands, and it could be decades before new medications and treatments can be available to patients who need them. The emergence of new digital health technologies will hopefully change this. Here are a few examples of how.
Tech companies such as Google, Samsung and Apple are creating wearable devices that patients wear, and allow data to be captured in real time and then used in clinical trial research. By 2018 in fact, it is forecasted that the wearable device market specifically for healthcare and fitness industry, including devices such as remote cardiac monitoring services, will be valued at $867 million. Shipments of these wearables worldwide will equate to over 13 million.
Google for example, recently unveiled a new wearable that can measure a wearer’s pulse, heartbeat rhythm, skin temperature as well as light exposure and noise levels. Clinical trial doctors can then use the device to collect rich data on participants both in the lab, as well as at home, which is something that has not been possible in the past. The device is easy for the patient to use, while the data is extremely accurate and can be provided at a much faster pace than with previous methods.
With digital health, researchers and physicians now have access to reputable providers outside their clinic where they can get answers, not in a week or in a month, but instantly on-demand when needed. HealthTap is one portal that is doing this with over 70,000 doctors currently participating. This would greatly reduce the time taken to collect the necessary data for generating good evidence.
Digital health for clinical trials have a direct correlation with increased convenience and decreased costs. Clinical trials will be simpler to be conducted in a person’s home rather then travelling to visit the healthcare provider and can be a better solution for patients who are too sick to travel. Data can be conveniently obtained at a moment’s notice from people with all conditions in any part of the world with good internet access.
Technology has been, and continues to be an enabler of new advances in the healthcare space. This includes the world of clinical trials. It should be interesting to see how even more advanced it becomes in months and years ahead.