Technology. For some people, the word sends shivers down their spine. For others, it’s just the opposite. As a software provider, it’s the latter for us. We find technology in health care is no different when it comes to acceptance and adoption. Nor is the use of technology in research. It seems you either love it or hate it. Often, it may be fear of the actual change itself that prohibits us from tending towards the “loving it” side. But, the key to successfully using technology in research is finding a proper balance between the capabilities of the technology and the precautions needed to protect the integrity of the information. Electronic medical records, software many of us are familiar with, is just the tip of the iceberg in the realm of healthcare technology.
In clinical trials, a technological concept originating from online education is now coming forward for research study recruitment. The Massive Open Online [Educational] Course (MOOC) has morphed into Massive Open Online Clinical Trial (MOOCT). The idea is very intriguing–what a great way to get massive amounts of data with very little cost! The down side is data integrity. Will people be truthful in their responses? How reliable will participants be with their eVisits? Up until now, the gold standard for clinical trials has been blinded, controlled randomized studies. How will blinded randomization occur and how do you know that patients are actually consuming the test article? Also, because not all people may have access to the technology, are you excluding a key part of the population? How will data managers and statisticians account for these variables?
It is interesting to see how technology is expanding its reach and capabilities by offering alternative options for patients. The technology to conduct research in this manner is certainly available. For example, telemedicine is already here–eliminating the need for actual clinic visits and replacing them with phone visits for more rural patients or those who can’t easily make it to the clinic. With new technologies in mind, how long will it be until we are seeing most studies conducted digitally?
For a deeper dive into the influence of technology in clinical research, take a look at these related resources:
- [Infographic] The State of Today’s Clinical Research Industry
- Bias and Tinfoil: A Short History of Technology & Software in Clinical Research
- mHealth: Is Mobile Technology Right for your Clinical Trial?
You can also visit our resources page for tips and best practices for clinical trial operations: