Erez Raphael is the CEO and President of LabStyle Innovations, creator of Dario diabetes management solution. Dario is an all-in-one smart meter and app that provides people with diabetes instant glucose level readings, management of fitness activities and a database of sugar levels in foods.
When it comes to bringing better drugs to market, clinical research is a critical step. Enormous time is spent proving that a product is safe and effective. Yet several common inefficiencies tend to slow down the process often preventing these drugs and devices from helping those who could benefit from them most.
Smartphones offer us incredible new opportunities for implementing efficient clinical research trials. They allow researchers to simplify complexities that have traditionally surrounded clinical research with tools that are now easily accessible to both practitioners and patients. Smartphones can be used to gather critical information from an enrolled patient including factors such as weight, blood pressure, glucose levels, and more. Not only can smartphones be used to automate and speed up information entry, they offer ways to improve the methodology and accuracy of research.
Here are 5 issues making clinical research less efficient as well as costly, and how smartphones can help significantly improve the process.
- Recruitment – Recruitment for clinical research can be a major challenge – the process of finding exactly the right types of patients can be taxing. For example, how do recruiters go about finding someone who is newly diagnosed with diabetes with a specific family history? If the trial needs someone who was diagnosed in the last six months, time can slip away at an alarming rate. Smartphones make it easier to reach large masses of potential trial participants instantly. Their medical history can be verified quickly and accurately without having to wait long periods of time to check if they could be a good candidate and delaying start dates. Participants can register for trials easily, and submit their information with minimal hassle.
- Maintaining Participation – Maintaining study participation for trials that can last years is an obstacle that almost all clinical trials face, as participants are reluctant to commit to long-term trials that often disrupt daily life. Smartphones lessen the number of face-to-face meetings required during the process and makes communication easier between researchers and participants. Smartphones can also lower the disruptiveness that a study takes on the day-to-day life of a participant. For example, some apps like Dario, allow real-time sharing of blood glucose and medication compliance without interrupting daily routines.
- Data Integrity – Research data can often be inaccurate. What is a study administrator supposed to do when someone stops logging important information? If the right data isn’t collected, they may not be able to use any of that person’s data in the trial. Participants already carry their smartphones, making it easier to track things like symptoms, and the study administrators can monitor in real-time whether it’s being tracked correctly. This saves a tremendous amount of time for both the patient and the trial administrator.
- Safety – By embracing secure mobile technology, clinical researchers can monitor studies in real-time for safety issues. Is a new diabetes medication causing severe low blood sugars? With smartphones, worrying trends can be spotted proactively, enabling the study administrator to intervene and protect patients.
- Cost – Perhaps the greatest issue preventing successful trials and medical devices from coming to market is the cost involved in exhibiting successful tests. Staff, supplies, facilities, and paying participants all come at a high price. Smartphones can cut the cost of every facet of clinical trials. Since a smaller commitment is needed on behalf of the participants when smartphones are used in collecting data, researchers can hire the participants at a lower cost. The price of overhead goes down significantly as well when smartphones are used to enter data automatically and less patient visits are required.
Smartphones are the ultimate cost-effective way to make clinical research more efficient. They are a non-intrusive tool for monitoring patients, and can be used to survey patients anywhere and at any time. While we aren’t there yet, smartphones really do provide a very reasonable alternative to today’s system of conducting clinical trials. Clinical researchers need to embrace the mobile revolution so that essential drugs and medical devices can get through the clinical process quicker and more efficiently and fulfill their intended purpose, saving lives.