The Future of Clinical Trials

The efficacy of clinical trials can have a direct correlation to the use of innovative technology within them. Consequently, the technological advancements we embrace today may help us shape a healthier future for tomorrow. The clinical trial process will always involve researchers, physicians and pharmaceutical companies working toward the common goal of ensuring the safety of patients while discovering improvements in the prevention, diagnostics and treatment within the world of healthcare; but just what exactly does the future hold as it relates to clinical trials and the advancements in medicine?

There has been and continues to be a shift to decentralization in clinical trials. This evolution into conducting clinical trials remotely, where patients spend all or a portion of the clinical study at home, is being made possible due to the advancements in mobile health tracking and telemedicine. As we begin to take full advantage of proven emerging technologies like these, we may be able to significantly accelerate and improve the outcomes of clinical trials, as well as the entire patient experience and our clinical data collection.

One of the tools most helpful in the decentralization of clinical trials is mobile health tracking. There have been significant advances in mobile technology since the earliest wearable devices were invented. Simply counting steps has evolved into computing calories, monitoring heart rate and tracking sleep patterns and eating habits. Sensors built into clothing and placed in homes can effortlessly collect data 24 hours a day. There are smart phone applications and on-body sensors that can measure glucose levels, respiratory status and detect seizures. Certain in-body sensors can even release necessary medication into the system. There is continual improvement gauging environmental aspects such as temperature and moisture levels as well.

Contextual information is also improving with respect to remote sensing systems. Advanced wireless sensors are increasing in accuracy and ability, detecting body position and activity level, to determine things such as if a patient has fallen. And our mobile health tracking tools continue to evolve.

Another major player in our remote clinical trial connections is the wireless medical device. Wireless medical devices are making clinical trials more patient-centric by providing ongoing, comprehensive health observations. Medical communication through wireless devices is immediate and accurate, mitigating risk factors and improving patient safety, as well as eliminating delays, transcription errors and incomplete data – essentially completely guaranteeing data integrity. All of these things lead to lower administrative, facilitation and management costs, as well as improved patient adherence.

Then, of course, there are virtual clinical trials with telemedicine. These are essentially stay-at-home trials where remote technology allows patients to actively participate on their own terms. An added benefit to the patient comfort, convenience and retention telemedicine provides is improved trial oversight.

Another advancement in technology related to remote clinical trials is the delivery drone. Eliminating the need for patient travel, delivery drones can be used to get clinical trial materials directly to patients.

Then there comes the concept of global transparency. Just as Interpol provides access to crime data across the globe, clinical trials may be leaning toward a more connected support system – a networked approach with a single global standard throughout the world for submitting and retrieving data. The results of global transparency will be quicker, all-encompassing, more accurate information available to medical professionals, researchers and patients. One of the ways this may be successfully achieved is through the prevalent use social media platforms.

As we look to the future, we could also begin to see medical breakthroughs delivered through silico clinical trials. Silico clinical would replace animals and humans from extensive and expensive clinical research with individualized computer simulation. While completely computer simulated clinical trials are not yet feasible, this particular technological advancement is currently being researched.

If you can produce various aspects of research of clinical research with computer simulation, why not fabricate cells? Synthetic biology is the fabrication of artificial cells which would interact with bacteria and other variants just as natural biological cells would. Although studies are being conducted in this area, we are not “there yet”.

That brings us to the concept of prediction within clinical trials. Personalized medicine, which is essentially prediction through genetically driven trials, is currently being used to provide a deeper understanding of patient populations.

Another technological advancement which will aid in the clinical trial prediction process is artificial intelligence data collection. Artificial data collection will also allow us to shift from a burdensome reliance on source documentation verification to electronically captured data. This shift to artificial intelligence data collection will optimize workflow and allow for more accurate data collection, thereby reducing risk and redundancy. Additionally, artificial intelligence data collection will allow for more complex analytics and an enhanced review process. Artificial intelligence data collection can also be used within the patient recruitment process to quickly and accurately determine clinical trial volunteer eligibility.

Of course, as we increasingly depend upon improved technology and we work within the realm of remote clinical trials and artificial intelligence data gathering, we must remain mindful that the human connection can become limited. Subsequently, we must vigilantly provide consistent communication and support to provide our patients with the peace of mind created by trust and nurturing through human contact.

In summary, the ultimate goal of clinical trials is to enable people to live the healthiest lives possible. Technological advances which improve clinical trial efficacy and accelerate the clinical trial process will help us achieve that goa