In the last decade, mobile health applications, tools and devices have transformed many aspects of the health care space. What’s clear is that in the future, the medicine on offer will be totally different to the drugs we currently know. Inevitably, all of them will change the way health care data is gathered, analyzed, interpreted, stored, and shared. As such, medical professionals will need to be more aware about the patient’s needs and their treatment goals.
But as eTools, mobile devices and personal digital assistants (PDA) become more advanced, health care stakeholders will be able to readily access critical information on patients at the earliest opportunity. So far, there has been huge support for the use of these technologies in the real world setting, giving rise to a surge of optimism among patients and their families that one day there will be a cure to a chronic disease. But ultimately, we must ask the question: when can such an idea be available in the real world setting and implemented into clinical practice? There is huge pressure on developers and patients to have the final answer because time goes very quickly.
Personally I am fascinated by the possibilities of using mobile health applications, such as Fitbit in clinical trials to make the right diagnosis and create treatment options. However, there is still a lot of skepticism about its implementation in the real world as the use of mobile devices in clinical trials will surely test law requirements in various countries. However, I do believe there is value in making use of the technologies available to us.
What are the Possibilities?
Despite the strides mobile technology has made over the years, going forward, we shouldn’t expect any radical changes. Nevertheless, mobile health offers a significant opportunity to improve clinical outcomes for patients. The biggest challenge for mobile technologies is to show they can help tackle the biggest issues facing health care in the 21st Century – chronic diseases and an aging population.
There is no doubt mobile devices offer many possibilities when applied to medicine and clinical trials. Gradually, pharmaceutical companies and CROs are trying to implement new, innovative solutions at the clinical operational level. Even now, we are witnessing significant changes in clinical trials and medical practice as well. I am sure we can say the possibilities are limited just to our minds.
As health care decision-makers, we are responsible for our health and future condition, but it is up to every patient to treat themselves. Of course the final decision should be taken with medical professionals (physicians).
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Now, more and more medical activities within the clinical trial setting have moved from the hospital to the patient’s home. Pharmaceutical companies are adopting a patient centric approach, with direct to patient shipping becoming more popular, and even mobile nursing. With the advent of mobile technology, what is clear to see now is that the future of medicine lies not in the hospital but the patient’s home.
Finally, in the clamor towards mobile health adoption, stakeholders should always be cognizant of not only the project outcome but the patient’s needs. Further, it’s important for sponsors to remember with mobile health, it’s not about what is possible but what value it can bring. The possibilities are seemingly endless, but the value for both the patients and their families can be priceless. So it’s important to engage patients and advocacy groups from the very beginning – at the protocol design stage – to ascertain what kind of mobile devices would be helpful for specific therapeutic groups and indications.
Let’s Change Our Mindset
When it comes to mobile technology, it’s impossible to deny the impact it has in our daily lives. While there is a huge fear that mobile devices could determine our lifestyle choices, nothing could be further from the truth. Technology cannot change your lifestyle, only you can do it with the right technologies.
It’s important people recalibrate their mindset and use these technologies to answer their needs and outcomes. PDA can help you achieve your goals by giving you data about your health, while making the right decisions in the right time to improve your life expectancy. Creating awareness starts with self-awareness. With mobile devices and tracking, monitoring your daily activity and physical parameters are great ways to help understand what they might need to improve.
From my point of view, and as a professional involved in clinical trials for many years, technological advancements are occurring at a rapid pace and cannot be stopped. This is very good occasion for all participants and stakeholders included in clinical trials and research to adopt this new mobile approach. I believe the mobile devices can greatly impact the way clinical trials are run. Everybody is affected by new technologies – every voice does matter and we need to create our medicines for us and the future generation as well.