Advances in Data Collection through Mobile Health Technology

In Clinical6 by Brandy ReedLeave a Comment

Written By: Kamei Triebell

Mobile devices are a natural point of engagement for a majority of the population. According to the International Telecommunication Union, there are almost as many mobile telephone subscriptions today as there are people in the world. While most development data collection is still paper-based, there is a great amount of success resulting from data collection with enterprise mobile technologies. There is increasing evidence that digital data collection is faster, often more reliable, and in many cases, more economical than traditional forms. PROs and performance measures can be easily and frequently deployed through apps, emails, texts, voice actions, and push notifications.


Smartphone internal sensors can collect data by capturing physical movement, location, sound, images, and social interactions. In addition, they are also capable of assessing physiological parameters when the participant interacts with the phone. This data can be used to understand the level and type of physical activity, sedentary behaviors, sleep, and movement. When conducting a clinical trial, this data becomes invaluable in gathering accurate results and information.


Many of the capabilities of smartphones are now being integrated into smartwatches (i.e. Apple Watch). These smartwatches have the advantage of being in touch with the user’s skin continuously for potential unceasing physiological assessment – such as heart rate, oxygen, and temperature readings. Smartwatches also provide real-time data that can precisely identify a range of activities as well as estimate energy expenditure. Other wearable devices and sensors, such as FitBit and Garmin, connect through smartphones or directly to the Internet, providing another point of real-time and accurate data. Most are tracking activity, sleep, and heart rate. Sensors have also been developed specifically targeting medical conditions, such as diabetes and asthma, as well as finely calibrated sensors designed for research.


Mobile applications can also enhance data collection in a clinical trial. For example, think of a clinical researcher that wants to track a patient after their treatment. They give the patient a pen and questionnaire to complete before the scheduled appointment. The researcher would only get the results the next time they interact with the patient, let’s assume one week. In that time, the patient may feel a myriad of side-effects or symptoms, but may have forgotten to write down a few key points such as time of day, what they ate, how long since their last dosage, etc. This is where a mobile data collection app can help. The researcher can design something far more complex than a week-long diary study. Using geo-location to track the patient’s movement, push notifications to remind the patient to fill out diary entries and food logs, and reminders to take medication can paint a better picture of that week than a simple questionnaire. In addition, all the information provided will be time stamped and logged when they happen, environmental factors are added through location tracking, and the researcher-patient relationship improves.

Here at Parallel 6, we have developed an enterprise mobile technology platform, Clinical Reach, which can dramatically improve the way clinical trials are run. If you would like to learn more about Parallel 6 and Clinical Reach, please visit our website and request a demo.

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