Wearable devices: Driving more value in the clinical trial model

Wearable devices can also be used to provide contextual information around prescription therapies.
By Drew Schiller
06:41 AM
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Obtaining timely, accurate data from participants has been an ongoing challenge in clinical trials. Even in highly incentivized clinical trials, researchers struggle with getting participants to travel to clinical sites for testing and to report accurate data manually. As timing and accuracy of data are key components to the efficiency, speed, and therefore overall costs of operating a clinical trial, consumer wearables offer an unparalleled opportunity to remedy these issues.

Constant data stream

Wearable devices enable consumers to passively track their health data 24/7, including when they are sleeping, which ensures the accuracy and timeliness of the information. And with growing consumer adoption and the level of engagement wearable devices deliver, they are the focal point of a paradigm shift in clinical trials.

Wearable health devices could be used in almost any clinical trial to passively grab more accurate data from patients at any time of day while they are doing any type of activity. This could not only benefit researchers during every phase of the clinical trial, but also the participants, as it would allow for passive trial adherence and more consistent, higher-resolution data for researchers. As well, this data can be analyzed to produce more valuable insights into individual and population trends over time. Most notably for trial participants, they would not have to travel to healthcare facilities as often to allow clinicians to assess their progress, nor would it be as intrusive to capture regular readings throughout the participant's day. Instead, the information would seamlessly flow from the wearable device directly to the clinical-research team.

Wearable devices can also be used to provide contextual information around prescription therapies, enabling researchers to better evaluate how well a drug is working. In the near future, wearable devices from companies like Proteus will also be able determine a participant's adherence to the medication.

Expanding the depth of clinical data                                                                                                

Wearable devices coming to market over the next year promise to expand the type of data researchers can ultimately collect and analyze. For example, a sensor could be used to receive pulse transit time information, which can be used to measure blood pressure. Because pulse transit time can be measured continuously, such data is incredibly meaningful for both researchers and patients in various trials, including those for hypertension or chronic heart failure. Data from these devices can also be used in sleep studies to detect sleep apnea or hypopnea, among other conditions.

Digital health has the potential to revolutionize how pharmaceutical and contract research organizations operate clinical trials for researchers and participants. The value of using wearable technologies in clinical trials is being realized as these devices continue to prove to be cost-saving and efficiency-maximizing solutions.