Is there a place for wearable technology in clinical trials?


1st January, 1970

Is there a place for wearable technology in clinical trials?

Wearable technology had been continuously developing and growing in popularity over the past few years and now looks set to become a part of different major industries from fitness to banking. So is there a place for wearable technology in clinical trials?

Medical researchers need huge amounts of data to provide valuable, clear results. Yet the most difficult challenge for them today is recruiting participants. Without large numbers, studies can’t generate the robust data needed to help them develop wider-ranging or individualized treatments. Advances in sensor technology and microelectronics have opened new opportunities in the health and life sciences industries. Wearable sensors allow for continuous bio-monitoring without any manual intervention, thus reducing provider-patient interaction and costs while contributing improvements in the quality of the data.

Even apple has taken a step in clinical research snice launching its wearable ‘Apple Watch’. The app, called Research Kit is expected to transform patient recruitment and data collection. With the Research Kit, iPhone and Apple watch owners will be able to download clinical apps and allow their data to be collected and anonymized.  Apple devices will collect what was before unimaginable amounts of clinical data from different populations and diseases and store them in a specially designed cloud database.  

ResearchKit will now simplify recruiting as it will be easy for people to sign up for a study no matter where they live in the world meaning trials will no longer be restricted by location. Not only this, but it will allow researchers to do away with stacks of handwritten surveys and lengthy forms. By allowing participants to complete tasks or submit surveys straight from their iPhone, and data can be extracted straight from wearables like the apple watch. This can be greatly cost and time effective.

However, as described by Andrena Logue in her interview for Clinical Trials Arena, we now need to be much more careful and considerate because we are looking at potentially sensitive data being shared in a 24/7 context with all manner of people, which risks getting into the wrong hands because it isn’t controlled, leading to all sorts of repercussions.

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