Wearable technologies are grabbing headlines as consumer-oriented devices that measure vital signs such as heart rate and respiration. Initially targeting the fitness market, more sophisticated devices are finding an audience among those interested in tracking their health. But the digital transformation of health care is leading to these technologies finding a place in drug discovery and development. They will become the monitors collecting data used for evaluating the performance of experimental drugs still in clinical trials.
One pharmaceutical company already exploring the application of wearables in clinical trials is GlaxoSmithKline. GSK has completed a pilot study of wearables in a small group of patients. The study used cloud-based software from data startup company Medidata and devices from sensor companies Vital Connect and ActiGraph to evaluate six participants.
The study subjects went about their daily lives wearing the monitoring devices, explained MobiHealthNews. Data collected from the devices was uploaded into software, which then became part of the lab’s clinical record. Medidata said the study collected more than 18 million data points of activity and vital signs per participant, per day.
That collection of multiple data points over time becomes important as a pharmaceutical company tries to understand how a drug is working in patients. Constant monitoring allows for real-time analysis of what a drug is doing at any given moment. It will also allow for quicker intervention in cases of adverse events.
The monitoring capabilities introduced by wearable devices should help pharmas collect the data they need to better evaluate the compounds in these studies. By allowing pharma to be more responsive and to make quicker clinical trial decisions, it’s even possible that the clinical trials could be completed faster.
The drug review process will always require some element of human testing. But technology is introducing new and better ways of collecting and analyzing data, and ultimately, that could mean that newly developed medicines more quickly get to the market and into the hands of the patients who need them.
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