The use of mobile health in clinical trials has been consistently growing for the last few years, and for good reason. Mobile health technologies, often referred to as “mHealth,” is the general term for technologies used in medical care. mHealth can range from applications on mobile phones, tablets, and computers, to wearable devices, such as smart watches and fitness bands. mHealth has been gaining popularity in clinical trials because of its ability to gather general health data, as well as monitor real-time patient vital signs. mHealth technologies can benefit clinical trials in many ways by enhancing data collection, improving patient enrollment and engagement, and the lowering the cost of trials.
mHealth technologies offer many benefits for clinical trials, and one of the main benefits it offers is its ability to collect more frequent, higher-quality data. Clinical trials count on reliable data, and mHealth has the ability to optimize clinical trial data through higher-quality data collection. Improved data quality has many benefits for clinical trials, including being able to produce study results in a shorter period of time. More mHealth technologies are also implementing advanced measurement technologies that can collect patient data from almost anywhere, such as silicon-based microneedles to obtain fluid readings. These kinds of technologies have the power to revolutionize clinical trials by being able to collect patient data remotely, which can make data collection easier and faster.
mHealth is also opening avenues for more efficient and optimized subject enrollment and engagement. Subject enrollment is one of the main obstacles facing clinical trials, and by introducing mHealth into patient recruitment, researchers can reach a brand-new group of potential patients. In one study done by Stanford University, over 10,000 patients were enrolled overnight by using Apple’s ResearchKit medical research platform (1). Subject engagement is also a large problem in clinical trials, and researchers are very confident that mHealth technologies will greatly increase patient engagement by making patient engagement easier and less time-consuming. Researchers are using mHealth to administer online patient surveys and assessments, as well as online patient education, which is making clinical trials much more accessible to patients.
mHealth also has many benefits for the costs of clinical trials. Research is notoriously expensive and can go on for very long periods of time. But mHealth technologies are cutting back the costs of clinical trials by allowing automatic feeds of biometric data into health systems, which minimizes office visits, physician-administered procedures, and the cost of data entry. By making clinical trials more efficient, mHealth can greatly cut back on administrative costs and in turn, make clinical trials more effective and less costly.
The clinical trial space provides a great channel to leverage mHealth technologies to increase patient enrollment and engagement, improve data collection, and reduce the costs of clinical trials, and there are many areas of opportunity to introduce mHealth technologies into the world of clinical trials. mHealth technologies have many benefits for clinical trials, and as mHealth technologies improve, we will surely be seeing them implemented in the clinical space more and more.