In the 1950s, Mark R. Sullivan, president of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, predicted that one day “The telephone will be carried about by the individual, perhaps as we carry a watch today. It probably will require no dial or equivalent and I think the users will be able to see each other, if they want, as they talk.” Fast forward 70 years, and we can not only talk to our watches, but we can connect them to our phones to monitor our health and well-being.
The latest versions of today’s wearables, such as Apple Watches and Fitbits, allow consumers to receive a variety of health notifications. These include high, low, and irregular heart rate, blood oxygen level, blood pressure, and sleep pattern notifications. Wearables will even automatically connect you to emergency services if a fall or accident is detected. With all these health-related features, it’s no wonder that this technology has broken into the field of clinical trials, so let’s jump into a few reasons why.
- Increase in patient participation.
Wearables allow health data to be collected remotely. This enables clinical trials to require less frequent travel to trial sites, and so widens access of these clinical trials to patient populations.
- Improved data quality.
Accuracy is improved by eliminating the human error that may come from the manual collection of data. Wearables also allow for a more accurate picture of one’s health and performance due to their continuous, instead of occasional, monitoring.
- Side effect prevention and detection.
The noble risk that comes with clinical trials is the potential for adverse effects. Wearables have the ability to detect numerous health inconsistencies, even before obvious symptoms occur, allowing for quicker intervention and changes to treatment.
- Reduced costs.
The average cost to bring a drug to market is about $1 billion. One contributor is the costly on-site assessments and the medical equipment used during these assessments. Wearables allow for a decrease in cost by reducing the time spent at the clinical trial sites.
- Expanded clinical trial opportunities.
Wearables are allowing researchers to collect data they’ve never been able to capture before in a way that’s faster, easier, and more reliable. This can open the door to new discoveries and expand research opportunities across a wide variety of patient backgrounds.
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