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Digital Health and Clinical Trials

Digital health is taking over the healthcare industry by storm in many different aspects. As we discussed in our “Digital Health and Connected Devices” blog post, the medical and healthcare industry is shifting its practices to digitalize and smart technology-based systems. This move is so important because it not only connects doctors and patients, but individuals have the ability to track their own health and progress. People will become more in-tune with their bodies, changes it makes, and things that need medical attention as soon as possible.

Taking healthcare and medical practices a bit further, is the use and benefits of clinical trials. Clinical trials are essential to medical research, both for doctors and the people who need it most, the patients. However, as critical as these trials are, often they are not as effective as they should be. This is because patients participating in clinical trials have a difficult time following trial protocols exactly as they should.

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Protocols and instructions are generally not followed, or followed improperly, because patients don’t understand what they are supposed to do, how and when to take their medications and treatments, etc. These issues will lead to an increase in clinical trial and research cost, false trial outcomes, and endangerments to the health of the clinical trial participants.

Therefore, smart technology and digital health have become increasingly popular in clinical trial use. Clinicians are finding smart and connected devices can play a critical role in the success of clinical trials. Below we will explore some of the most popular digital health deceives and technologies that assist in clinical trials.

Wearable Fitness Devices

Popular wearable fitness devices play a more important role than just tracking someone’s steps or how many calories they burned during a workout. There are two common types of these wearables that are used during a clinical trial – consumer grade and clinical grade. Many clinicians like to use consumer grade fitness bands because they are small, easy to use and navigate, and can fit into a participant’s life easily. However, the results and readings cannot be used as official results.

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Clinical grade bands are known as actigraphs and they gather both primary and secondary data. They are more reliable and have been tested in an official capacity. Fitness bands can be so helpful for clinical trails because they keep a constant look at patient’s activity levels, fitness, heart rate, etc. They can also be used outside of a trial office, which allows clinicians to see results and data when their participant isn’t there.

Clinical Device: Blood Pressure Monitor

Recently, blood pressure monitors have been developed that can be used outside of a clinical trial setting. These devices can be taken home and can collect regulatory-grade data. The digital health device is wireless. The data is collected through a smart cuff the patient wears and is immediately sent to a smart phone or whatever platform is being used by the clinician and clinical trial.

Having this wireless and portable blood pressure device makes it easier for participants in the trial to stay connected and keep on track with the trials protocols. It not only helps improve the reliability of the data, but it also helps the data gathered from each patient become more frequent. This is important for a clinical trial because it is far less likely for there to be any missing or incomplete data in the trial.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps can be used on any kind of smart phone and on tablets. Certain mobile apps are an easy and convenient way for clinical trial participants to keep track of many different factors. For example, they can keep track of their food, sleep activity, heart rate, weight, and symptoms of their disease.

Generally pharmaceutical companies use these apps to communicate with the clinical trial’s participants. They use the app to communicate with them, send reminders about trial rules and procedures, and can even send them educational videos to help them through the trial process.