Dr. Bettina Experton, CEO, Humetrix

In an era of ubiquitous mobile connectivity and unprecedented customer engagement, the pharmaceutical industry is now starting to embrace digital health applications that allow them to connect with patients directly. Drug developers are seizing the tremendous opportunity to interface directly with candidates for clinical trials and trial participants by leveraging the devices they use every day – their mobile phones, tablets and various tracking devices.

Patient engagement has been shown to improve healthcare outcomes.  Now, it is poised to transform the drug development process, proactively manage adherence to treatment, make it easy to monitor adverse reactions, and enable new value-based payment models for pharmaceuticals.

In a new digital health-enabled paradigm, patients participating in clinical trials clearly understand the purpose of the trial and their role in it, communicate openly and directly about their experiences, follow protocols consistently, make all follow up visits and ultimately complete the trial.  In the traditional model, the drug manufacturer leaves much of this in the hands of physicians and patients, and has far less control and involvement in ensuring that all goes according to plan. As a result, a majority of trials take longer than anticipated, and drop out rates remain stubbornly high.

Mobile application platforms can change the dynamic – both during the recruitment phase, and throughout the trial – cutting costs, improving recruitment, and increasing retention.

Mobile technology can go a long way toward keeping patients engaged – and give the drug manufacturer more control in keeping patients on track.  But benefits begin even earlier.  By providing applications which can aggregate medical history with biometric sensor data, drug developers can make the process of recruiting participants for a clinical trial much more efficient.

Once patients enter a trial, a mobile platform can provide a direct line of communication, which can help the patient feel more empowered and safe, and can provide new levels of insight into patients’ experience with treatment, their behaviors, and the resulting clinical outcomes.  It can also help patients comply with protocols – and monitor their compliance and experience with treatment in real-time, enabling effective interventions before patients drop out.

Mobile medical technology is making a big impact on the way health care is delivered to patients today.  Drug manufacturers are now beginning to leverage the power of information technology to improve the clinical trial process as well.  By engaging patients from day one, they can decrease costs, and more importantly, accelerate processes, getting new, innovative and important personalized care treatments into patients’ hands more quickly.