Relationship-centric care: The power of digital health to transform and improve clinical trials

July 14, 2016 p360

Digital Medicine Connect 2016

We have all pondered the million-dollar question: In what way can healthcare and digital technology converge that will bring about lasting, clinically and economically impactful change to the effectiveness of therapeutics?

 

The answer might not lie exclusively in the physician-to-patient realm. Digital health applications have the power to not only improve monitoring between routine checkups, but also help us reimagine a much earlier phase in the healthcare innovation pipeline: clinical trials.

 

One of the most undervalued uses of technology, perhaps especially so in clinical development, is to bring people closer together. Relationship-centric technology presents an important emerging opportunity for pharmaceutical and research organizations to improve the performance of clinical trials.

 

With the constantly evolving research landscape and rising R&D costs, innovative technologies harness the power of remote data collection and widespread communication to lower the barrier to entry for enrollment, dramatically streamline processes of data collection and reduce study costs. Perhaps even more importantly, through these capabilities they have the potential to increase a patient’s trust and comfort in the investigation. This is one of the most deserving areas in healthcare for relationship-driven digital innovation.

 

AdhereTech presents a simple solution to improve patient adherence in a clinical trial. Its smart wireless pill bottles collect and send all adherence data in real time, measured by the twist of its cap and the signal of a white light. The system automatically analyzes this adherence and populates the data on a secure dashboard. If doses are missed, patients can receive customizable alerts and interventions using automated phone calls, text messages, and more. Unlike other adherence tools, AdhereTech’s smart pill bottle requires zero setup and no new workflows for patients.

 

While recruitment is a challenging task for many clinical trials, the difficulty is amplified for rare disease studies, as subjects are isolated to a small number of individuals. As such, clinical trial databases are limited and participants are difficult to locate, making it a struggle to meet enrollment goals. Digital health has the potential to reduce this struggle by significantly increasing communication reach, increasing study awareness and potentially identifying a larger audience of eligible subjects. Remote monitoring could also encourage more longitudinal studies, which allow researchers to follow the same subjects throughout the course of their lifetime, reducing enrollment needs and accumulating valuable data over time.

 

Althea Health is developing a clinical research software platform for patients with rare or orphan diseases. For pharma companies targeting orphan diseases that need to access rare disease communities and make them “research ready,” Althea Health engages patients and caregivers and collects natural history data using smartphones, web pages, health devices and EMR integration.

 

According to a recent report published by life science market intelligence and analytics solution BioPharm Insight, although the use of digital health solutions in clinical studies is a relatively new concept, sites in 81 countries have already participated in such studies, compared to only 18 countries six years ago. BioPharm Insight also reports that since 2010, the number of studies has increased from 42 to 328, an eightfold increase.

 

Many areas for improvement exist within relationships in the clinical research process, and a number of related “relationship-centric” technologies are gaining traction today. While digital health has seen both dramatic growth and harsh criticism since its beginning, recent adoption of clever designs and smarter algorithms that report trends rather than noise give us reason to believe a new standard for clinical operations is emerging through the power of technology.

 

Meet representatives from AdhereTech, Althea Health and BioPharm Insight at Digital Medicine Connect 2016.

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