It’s one thing to have a physician observe your symptoms, or attempt to decipher your description of them to come up with a diagnosis – but it’s quite another to have high tech monitoring systems that transmit your vital signs directly to the physician’s computer, in real time. Talk about minimizing the “lost in translation” effect.
Big Data and Self-Monitoring
When it comes to clinical research and new drug development, researchers rely enormously on test subjects to report on their symptoms in reliable ways. These patients are on the front lines of pharmaceutical innovation, providing the kind of data that helps refine medicines and make them safer for market release.
So, the more information these patients can provide researchers the better. But all of this big data needs to be organized and processed in order to be truly useful. That’s where the wearable technology comes in, and builds on the enormously popular “quantitative self” trend – a movement that sees humans monitoring their own body functions from bowel movements to blood pressure, and everything in between. Using Bluetooth, this information can be sent directly to physicians – or trial researchers.
Trial Patients as Active Collaborators
Drug developers are now combining patient-generated data with established electronic health records to generate a more complete picture of a new medicine’s impact. When reporting to trial physicians during pharmaceutical testing, patients enlarge this picture even further by complementing their data readouts with personal descriptions. They’re not just test subjects anymore – trial patients are taking control of their own health needs, while helping in the development of new drugs by providing immediate, actionable feedback.
Protecting Public Health, Beyond the Lab
The new access to, and streamlined organization of, patient big data has benefits beyond pharmaceutical quality assurance. Researchers at the Center for Learning Health Care at Duke University believe that the approach can better protect public health by widening the scope of drug trials – traditional methods make this extremely pricey and labour intensive. It can take ten years and millions of dollars to bring a new drug to market.
Plus, these constraints mean that many important questions go unanswered, including those regarding targeting and side effects. But organized electronic data provides a much larger pool of information, from a much more diverse group of participants. And it can be augmented by real-time reporting during doctor visits. The entire process is faster, cheaper – more efficient. And that translates into greater opportunity and resources to examine outcomes beyond the health care system, such as how changes in how we treat illness impact our overall quality of life in meaningful ways.
Do you think data from wearable technology would help you communicate better with your doctor?