In Dr. Scher’s recent blog post, “How Mobile Technology Can Improve Clinical Trials,” he makes two points extremely clear; digital recruitment and mobile technologies are paving the way for clinical trials. Further, these new resources will make a dramatic, positive impact on the way that clinical trials are run. It’s beginning with big corporations that are funding clinical trials that use new strategies such as social media recruitment. It’s also seen through technology such as Apple’s ResearchKit. The technology and social media hype is increasing awareness and enthusiasm about new research studies that will have an impact on health innovations around the world. While ResearchKit is primarily geared towards wellness, the act of participating in research gives users a sense of empowerment over their health. It’s a step in the right direction and it’s another sign that the healthcare industry is shifting into a patient-focused industry.
Dr. Scher also points out in his blog that the “dynamics and workflows of all phases of a clinical trial make that a recipe for poor recruiting and lack of patient engagement and thus retention.” A clinical trial management platform could help solve this issue. Dr. Scher notes that the technology for a robust platform with these capabilities already exists. Clinical Reach is a mobile enterprise platform that enables physicians to recruit and retain patients, all through their mobile device. Physicians can get instant feedback from patients, patients can participate in a study remotely and data is captured more efficiently.
We appreciate that Dr. Scher addresses how traditional evidence-based medicine is no longer considered infallible. Now is the time to integrate a more sophisticated method for recruiting patients. Social media is a great resource to take advantage of, due to its ability to recruit patients with rare diseases who reside in widely dispersed geographical regions. Dr. Scher says, “One study found that patients who are actively engaged in the use of social media for health care information are 60 percent more likely to have participated in a clinical trial compared to the general population.” This is hopeful news for clinical trials since one of the biggest barriers to clinical trials is that not enough people take part in them. Further, social media recruitment will help deter gender bias in clinical trials by opening up the recruitment pool to more people.
With the implementation of mobile technology and digital recruitment there is also opportunity to save millions of dollars for clinical research organizations (CROs). In a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services they projected the cost reduction for each phase of a trial in multiple disease state areas with the use of mobile technologies. “In Phase 1, the highest savings are $0.4 million (immunomodulation and respiratory system). The savings range from $0.5 million (cardiovascular) to $2.4 million (hematology) studies in Phase 2. In Phase 3, the highest savings that can be expected from the adoption of mobile technologies is $6.1 million (pain and anesthesia). Finally, the range of savings in Phase 4 studies is $0.7 million (genitourinary system) and $6.7 million (respiratory system).”
Dr. Scher concluded his thoughts by saying that mobile technology “might theoretically improve patient satisfaction, study subject retention and he aforementioned cost to study sponsor and investigators.”
In addition to being a member of Parallel 6’s Adivsory Board, David Lee Scher is a cardiac electrophysiologist and a consultant with DLS Healthcare Consulting, LLC. He blogs at his self-titled site, David Lee Scher, MD.