The conduct of clinical trial will witness significant changes over the coming few years. The emergence of new technologies and continued exponential growth of data and information generated daily in the clinic and in laboratories increased the opportunities for new clinical insights and treatment paradigms.
Recently, I wrote an article about the challenges within the healthcare industry and the high expectations that recent technology development, cloud computing, big data and wearables might offer. Last January, I delivered two webinars hosted by Clinical Research Webinars about recent technology trends — wearables, big data and analytics — and how they will transform clinical research and the healthcare industry in general. It was an exciting experience to talk to healthcare providers, researchers, investigators, sponsors, coordinators, clinical research practitioners, and even patients.
Wearables are already changing the workplace and clinical research isn’t far by any mean. It was an opportunity to get closer to the clinical research discipline and learn how wearable technology can provide a solution for some of the challenges within this field, such as recruiting and retaining participants in clinical trials.
The discussion about wearables eventually leads us to big data. Wearables will collect huge amounts of data. Data is collected from all aspects of our life and as data grows, concerns grow as well. From data breaches to auditing large sets of data, big data is a buzzword that we see everywhere. From their perspective, scientists face challenges handling large data sets especially in genomics, connectomics, biological and environmental research — big data and analytics become a promising solution. Actually, big data and analytics will play a major role in areas such as personalized healthcare and medicine.
Over the past years, Internet and biometric technologies are able to combine silos of data from different information sources into a single unified location where data can be analyzed. Emerging technologies such cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) might complement the picture, offering integral solutions, to connect data silos and shorten the adoption cycle. Big data and cloud computing go hand-in-hand. Cloud computing enables companies of all sizes to get more value from their data than ever before, by enabling blazing-fast analytics at a fraction of previous costs.
Wearables, big data and analytics are good examples of how technology continues to change, shape and transform traditional business models, in this context healthcare. Still, the challenge is: how to unlock the data’s value and make it more actionable, contextualized and meaningful? How to turn the data collected into quantifiable safety and efficacy measures?
We must learn to manage and understand new types of data and evidence in order to realize the power of new types of data and evidence. Also, we need to learn how recent advancements in web-based machine learning technology make it possible to discover breakthrough insights buried within vast, disparate collections of unstructured content at speeds never possible before.
As I disclosed the nature of challenges clinical researchers face and the potential solutions offered by technology, I realized that while new technology trends promise solutions to old outstanding challenges, they bring new ones, but of different nature.