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Technological Advancement in Clinical Trials

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Technological solution in clinical trials is not a new topic; in fact, digital health as a concept was first discussed as early as in the 1920s. However, it was in 1966 that these discussions progressed into actual implementable actions with the use of a high-speed digital computer. This computer used for patient questionnaires was the size of a small room, but it certainly was a significant advancement toward the adoption of digital technologies to help increase the efficiencies of conducting clinical trials.

Because clinical trial generates immense amount of data, we need this data to be collected electronically, access it, sort it, can review it and analyze it quickly is a critical piece in clinical trial today. Fast-forward to the mid-1990s and researchers were already testing the use of touch screen monitors for these patient questionnaires. It was during this time that researchers led to the discovery that patients were comfortable submitting data through digital devices. Although solid evidence supported the patient preference toward touch screen questionnaires, it was in 2007 with the introduction of a very popular and successful brand of touch screen phone that this wireless technology became mainstream. This advancement, in turn, supported the development of other technologies relying on wireless communication and electronic gadgets became smaller over time.

Leading survey consultants conducted a survey to investigate awareness, perceptions and implementation of technological solutions in the health and life sciences industry. An electronic survey focused on big data, cloud technology for EMRs, mobile health (mHealth) technologies and patient-centricity was distributed to professionals working in the drug development sector.

The study found the most standout benefit of big data to be increased efficiencies but also had a concern with the cost of implementation. Big data practices are currently being utilized by nearly half of the industry, yet respondents in this survey indicate the quality of training received is only average (3.07 on a 5.0 scale). Greater patient engagement and more successful patient recruitment are the top two benefits from implementation of patient-centric practices, yet cost is cited as the primary hindrance and/or concern regarding implementation.

The most common ways to measure patient-centricity are patient engagement metrics and qualitative patient feedback. Also collected from this survey is data on cloud technology for electronic medical records (EMRs) and mHealth technologies which are rapidly growing in their adoption by the industry, and it is fair to say that data integrity and data security are the key concerns which is the focus now.

Respondents indicate that cloud technology for EMRs will have the greatest effect on increasing efficiencies while mHealth technologies allow real-time data acquisition and increased patient compliance. The comparative results of this study provide an interesting look at where these technologies are and where they are going, allowing professionals in the health science industry to better anticipate changes in their workplace.

The evidence that this data indicates that the clinical industry needs to adopt this technology with its advancement, and we must increase our support for this technology as it is required to help all involved to achieve the best outcome for both patients and disease conditions.

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