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Wearables and Their Use in Clinical Trials

Wearable devices are becoming increasingly popular in healthcare, particularly in clinical trials. For example, smartwatches and fitness trackers can collect vast data about an individual's physical activity, heart rate, and sleep patterns. We will explore the different uses of wearables in clinical trials and how they are transforming the healthcare industry.

Different Types of Wearables in Clinical Trials

  • Head-Mounted Wearables

These devices, such as Google Glass and the Microsoft HoloLens, are typically worn on the head and provide users with real-time information about their surroundings. Head-mounted wearables may improve navigation in clinical trials by providing subjects with visually detailed information about the trial site. For example, a participant in an HIV study could use a head-mounted device to receive notifications about locations and times of appointments or study sites for visiting.

  • Smartwatches and Smart Clothing

These devices are often worn on the wrist and are generally used to monitor heart rate, sleep patterns, and calorie intake. Smartwatches can also monitor study progress by tracking the number of steps taken or miles run. For example, a clinical trial for Parkinson's disease may use a smartwatch to measure a participant's tremors throughout the day. Smart clothing is being used to detect muscle damage during exercies or sporting activities.

  • Other Wearable Devices

Many other wearable devices can be used in clinical trials. Popular consumer devices include Fitbit, Google Glass, and Pebble Time watch.

This technology can record health data and improve trial participant compliance. For example, the GlowCap is a wearable device easily integrated into a clinical trial for patients taking metronidazole for trichomoniasis.

Understanding their uses:

Real-time data collection:

  • Wearables can collect real-time data about patients' physical activity, heart rate, and sleep patterns.

  • This data can be used to monitor patient health and adjust treatment protocols accordingly.

  • Real-time data collection also reduces the likelihood of errors or omissions in data collection.

Improved patient engagement:

  • Wearables can help patients feel more involved in their healthcare by providing data about their health status and treatment progress.

  • Patients may also feel more motivated to participate in clinical trials when they can track their health data and see how their behavior affects their health outcomes.

  • Improved patient engagement can lead to better treatment protocol adherence and patient outcomes.

Enhanced accuracy of data collection:

  • Wearables can provide more accurate and objective data than traditional data collection methods like self-reporting.

  • This can reduce the risk of bias in data collection and improve the overall data quality.

  • Enhanced accuracy of data collection can lead to more reliable and robust research findings.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, wearable devices have enormous potential to revolutionise the way clinical trials are conducted. By providing real-time data about patients' health and behaviours, wearables can help researchers make more informed decisions about treatment protocols and improve patient outcomes. Wearable devices play a vital role in clinical research studies.

This area is still evolving and will see a lot of activities in the coming future with the advancement of technologies and wider reach. However, checking other challenges, including data privacy concerns and data collection and analysis standardisation, is essential. The impact of changing regulatory landscapes will also likely pose more challenges, as the understanding of wearables and their applicability is improved. The wearables in clinical trials improve the efficacy and efficiency of clinical research and ultimately benefit patient health.

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