Pfizer and IBM Turn to IoT in Digital Transformation of Clinical Trials

The so-called Internet of Things is making its mark on various aspects of medicine, bringing new ways to monitor and diagnose medical conditions. But much of the discussion about IoT in health care involves treating patients in a clinical setting. Two behemoths of industry, Pfizer and IBM, are now joining forces to bring IoT into clinical development of new drugs, part of the digital transformation of medicine. The companies are planning to work together on a patient monitoring system that will be used in a late-stage clinical trial in Parkinson’s disease.

Pfizer hopes that the technological capability to connect devices to patients and collect and exchange data will give real-time information about how Parkinson’s treatments are working on patients, Forbes explained. The idea is that the monitoring capabilities of the technology will help the company understand which patients need the drug, and if the drug can make a difference in the disease’s progression, Peter Bergethon, vice president and head of quantitative medicine at Pfizer told Forbes.

The monitoring system that Pfizer and IBM plan to use for the clinical trial will use sensors and monitors that will replace patient anecdotes and clinician observations that are currently used to evaluate how a drug is working in a clinical trial. The technology will also be able to identify how the drug is working in the body, and when it’s working — information that will be important to tell regulators, physicians, and insurance companies, Bergethon explained to Forbes.

The clinical trial could enroll up to 200 volunteers. But this trial represents more than a new way to test a Parkinson’s disease drug. Forbes reported that Pfizer eventually wants to seek regulatory approval on the technology itself, which would then bring new patient monitoring capabilities to hospitals.

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