The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the need to use digital health technologies for uninterrupted and efficient clinical trials.

Verdict has conducted a poll to assess which therapy areas are most suitable for the use of digital health technologies in clinical trials. Metabolic disorders that encompass diabetes and obesity was voted by 23% of the respondents as the most suitable therapy area, followed by cardiovascular disease (13%) and oncology (12%).

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While 11% opined infectious diseases to be the most suitable therapy area, 10% voted for sleep disorders.

Behavioural disorders, central nervous system, and pain management were voted by 8% of the respondents each. Furthermore, respiratory diseases were voted as the most suitable area by 7% of the respondents.

The analysis is based on 231 responses received from the readers of Clinical Trials Arena, a Verdict network site, between 8 December 2020 and 7 April 2021.

Use of digital health technologies in clinical trials

Digital health technologies can improve the process of patient recruitment, retention, digital health data collection, and analysis together with optimising the expenditures on clinical trials and reducing health risk to the researchers and trial monitors.

The adoption of digital health technologies in clinical trials grew from eight in 2000 to 1,100 in 2017, and further surged among the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Up to 70% of the clinical trials are estimated to use digital sensors by 2025, according to Kaiser Associates and Intel.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, for example, launched a clinical study, Heartline™, in collaboration with Apple to improve the health outcomes, including early detection of atrial fibrillation and stroke risk reduction, using the notifications of the Apple Watch on irregular rhythm and the ECG app.

Although research and development scientists may not be very familiar with the digital devices and technologies, device engineers could be brought into the clinical trials and drug development processes to overcome the barriers and broaden the adoption of the technologies in clinical trials, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.