A paradigm shift is occurring in the clinical trials industry surrounding mobile technology, or more specifically, mobile health (mHealth). Organizations are beginning to recognize the power mHealth has to positively affect their clinical trials and are implementing technologies at an increasing rate. A survey representing pharma, CROs, and service providers around the world indicated more than two-thirds (68%) of those who currently use mHealth in clinical trials use mobile apps. Among the many ways mobile apps can advance research, here are four benefits we’ll expect to see in 2018 and beyond:

Reduced study duration

Leveraging mobile technology can streamline a clinical trial from beginning to end. An easy-to-use, intuitive electronic data capture (EDC) app will make quick work of assigning roles, configuring study workflow, defining query management and randomization, and creating electronic case report forms (eCRFs). As data is gathered, the source data verification process is drastically shortened with the elimination of paper case report forms.   

Studies which utilize electronic participant reported outcomes, or ePRO, allow researchers to effectively gather the valuable data study participants provide when completing eCRFs and surveys within a mobile app. The ability to activate alerts when a participant submits an eCRF lets researchers collect data in near real-time and begin managing and analyzing the data as it comes in.

Improved study enrollment and retention rates

Apps can also aid research teams in achieving greater participant recruitment and retention. Mobile technology now makes virtual, app-based visits and follow-up appointments a reality, reducing the need for  site visits and saving time for both researchers and participants. Research teams can schedule push notification reminders to participants to encourage completion of eCRFs and surveys, treatment adherence, etc. to reduce study drop-out. It’s a direct line to clinical trial participants.

More accurate data

Data collected via mobile app is arguably cleaner and more objective than traditional methods in clinical research. Not only does it remove human error and bias from the clinical trial process, it can also add a level of standardization through the implementation of validated eCRFs.

Within eCRFs, users are now able to take advantage of the latest in mobile health (mHealth) technology to collect objective data, including the features with which smartphones are equipped: geo-positioning, accelerometer, gyroscope, HealthKit features, microphones, and cameras. mHealth is also synonymous with wearables: Apple Watch, Android Watch, FitBit, and other activity trackers, patches, jewelry, clothing, and more. As mHealth technologies continue to become more sophisticated, the array of usable data that can be collected directly into a clinical trial expands.

App-based clinical studies may also be configured to send out customized notifications for  any event or response entered in a study – an especially helpful feature for rapid visibility on adverse events. This indirectly makes a study safer for participants and allows for better outcomes.

Power behind “Big Data”

App-based clinical research, as it continues to surge in popularity, has the potential to generate an unprecedented quantity of data. In an article published in Frontiers in Oncology, the potential positive impact of Big Data in clinical research is discussed: “Only a fraction of collected trial data are used and published. The data could, however, be utilized to perform sub-studies or can be merged to acquire new insights for clinical day-to-day life…less animal testing and patient recruitment in pharmaceutical or other trials would be needed. Especially, research in the area of highly rare conditions would benefit. Instead of using the hard road of recruiting a huge number of patients to gather valid results, computer simulation can accompany trials in rare tumor or diseases.”

Although there are a few hurdles that must be overcome before mHealth truly proliferates the industry, mobile app-driven studies will inevitably play a pivotal role in clinical research. As more organizations prepare to adopt new technology, we’re excited to offer a fully-featured EDC app, TrialKit, that puts these capabilities – and many more – in the hands of research professionals everywhere. To see how TrialKit can accomplish quicker, more cost-effective studies for research teams, schedule a demo with one of our product experts.