Recently, a news article in the New York Times highlighted some of the new and innovative ways that tech companies are moving into the health care market. Tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have already begun to explore this market with a variety of different platforms. Apple is utilizing and creating research apps while acquiring several health startup companies, including Tueo Health, Gliimpse and many others. One study Apple is currently conducting is exploring if there is an early way to identify heart health issues in relation to exercise at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. They are doing this with the help of wearable technology that captures and details heart rate with physical activity. Microsoft is focusing on voice recognition software within hospitals to allow for more focused and direct patient care. Google is also looking to explore this market, specifically focusing on compiling patient data to help improve care by a multitude of different approaches. One thing all these companies are looking to achieve is to see if there are better ways to predict, treat, and analyze medical conditions.
As new technologies for capturing data continue to develop, the avenues of how clinical research is conducted may change.
Depending on the study design, subjects may not have to be seen in clinic or hospital settings, which may help improve compliance and capture better long-term data, while reducing the burden for subjects. Another benefit could be lower costs to recruit a larger number of subjects and allowing for more global populations to be studied. The other angle of this movement that should be explored is the uncertainties about subject privacy. Some companies have historically done a fairly good job maintaining consumer privacy; however, other companies exploring the healthcare market have not always demonstrated the same rigor.
While these technological advances could impact the research community greatly, clinical research has been sluggish when it comes to accepting it. There are limitations in what these pathways could yield in terms of clinical data, but one thing the industry has explored is patient recruitment strategies using social media platforms. As more tech companies move into this industry and utilize these strategies, retention could also be positively impacted as these technologies could be used to maintain contact with subjects over long-term follow-up. Another avenue these companies could explore is using app or smartphone devices to access Electronic Data Capture (EDC) systems. This could allow for real time data collection for physicians and Sponsors.
The impact these tech companies will have on how clinical research is conducted remains to be seen. What impact do you think these new ways to conduct clinical research will have on the industry? What positive and negatives do you think this will have on clinical trial data and subject privacy?NEC-conference-28 via photopin (license)