Understanding Mobile Health Trends and Opportunities for Clinical Trials and Post-Approval Programs

Understanding Mobile Health Trends and Opportunities for Clinical Trials and Post-Approval Programs

Understanding Mobile Health Trends and Opportunities for Clinical Trials and Post-Approval Programs

The Dose of Digital website lists more than 300 pharma mobile health apps.  Many of these apps provide valuable educational and scientific information containing drug, disease, and health management information. And, while many of the apps are geared towards healthcare providers, few apps are focused on clinical development.  So how can mHealth solutions support clinical trials and post-approval programs?

Let’s start with the basics: What is Mobile Health?

Mobile Health (mHealth) encompasses any patient health information accessed using mobile technology, such as a smart phone, tablet, or other wireless device. These health applications provide diagnostic and treatment support, remote monitoring, data collection, awareness, wellness, training/education, and tracking. It can be something as simple as my 13-year-old checking his allergy app to see the pollen count for the day, or it may involve more complex capabilities such as my 83-year-old mother receiving ECGs from her home care nurse with a mobile device that records data and is sent back to her physician’s office.

Why is mHealth important?

Not only are more and more people using mobile devices to access medical information and download health applications, but physicians are increasingly relying on this technology to provide a portion of patient care and to receive information on the latest medical breakthroughs. According to Pew Research Center, 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the last year to look up information about a health condition. Additionally, more than 300 mobile health programs globally target issues such as disease states, nutrition, fitness, and weight management. These are geared to varied customer segments including public healthcare institutions, physicians, healthcare workers, and individuals. This number is expected to grow, with the global mobile health market to reach 23 billion by 2017 with monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment-related programs to comprise over half of the market within the next four years.

This explosive growth is being fueled by new technologies, the growing aging population, and increased demand for personalized care. These programs can range from a simple tracker to log steps walked in a day, to a global health care initiative such as MomConnect – a National Department of Health (NDoH) initiative to use cellphone SMS technology to register every pregnant woman in South Africa in an effort to reduce maternal and childhood mortality through targeted text messages.

How can clinical trials leverage mHealth?

The emergence and popularity of patient-centric applications provide a great opportunity for pharmaceutical manufacturers to engage patients and create a customized, direct relationship with them. And the clinical trial space provides an excellent channel to leverage these technologies. The integration of mobile technology in new clinical trial design and business strategy development holds promise for aligning site and patient needs with faster study execution and reduced costs.

Mobile technologies are already being used in clinical trial recruitment and retention, with the capacity to be used even more.  Specific studies and opt-in databases have the potential to:

  • Provide patients with access to studies they would not otherwise know about
  • Reduce site visits by wireless data tracking via devices such as Smart Toilets and ECG’s administered by home health nurses.
  • Allow investigative site staff  access to several different formats of study materials and tools
  • Offer site and patient education/administration training in different iterations
  • Personalize patient retention activities such as

    • Email and SMS: Vvisit, medication and diary reminders
    • Online patient surveys and assessments
    • Wearables
    • Newer retention techniques such as Gamification and online community access

Many of these activities can be accessed on the patients’ own smartphones (Bring your Own Device or BYOD) without adding the expense of additional devices.

This month’s mHealth Summit will bring together healthcare and technology leaders in government, the private sector, industry, academia, payers, providers, and non-profit organizations from across the mobile health continuum.  I will be attending the summit to learn about emerging technology and ways these platforms can be used to engage patients and providers across the healthcare spectrum and be further implemented in clinical trials.  Program highlights this year include cutting edge wearable technology and tracking platforms, engagement of patients post-hospital discharge to reduce Loss to Follow up (LTFU),  increasing adoption of mobile health by providers, and optimizing the patient mobile app experience.

I’m ready to put these tactics to work for your clinical trial. Contact us to start the discussion and check back after the conference when I’ll share some of the insights I gather.

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