Biotaware at DIA 2018

Author: Sarah Iqbal

This year's DIA took place in Boston, one of the oldest US cities famous for its colleges and universities and of course its sea food. The show's mantra this year was “driving insights to action”, a familiar message and one which sits as the driving spirit behind technology adoption and application in clinical studies and pharmaceutical research.

The event provided us an opportunity to meet with existing clients and partners as well as talk with industry professionals and lead figures to get the measure of how integrated technologies such as wearables and connected sensors are being perceived in clinical studies. Awareness is definitely on the rise. At present, the industry has similar characteristics to when smartphone usage started to become a viable proposition several years ago. Initially met with some caution and skepticism, mobile is now a regular and generally well accepted method for collecting patient data within a study.

It seems that wearables and connected devices are travelling a similar path. The clinical world has the tantalizing prospect of being able to capture objective measurements to accompany a clinical study though it is still early days. The patient information being gathered has yet to fully support and drive real outcomes, however evidence to support adoption is being gathered. Talking with people at DIA reveals a number of hurdles around compliance and adherence in particular. Fortunately, we think we’ve got that covered.

Our view is that wearable technology will continue to improve and become more transparent. Recently I saw an article announcing the development of graphene-based wearables that are applied to the skin and use body heat to communicate information to a mobile device. We live in remarkable times.

Another key topic at DIA was artificial intelligence. It seems that AI, particularly when it comes to processing data, is a natural progression from human interpretation. There is so much data being generated by technological systems that it can be overwhelming for humans to process and interpret. This is certainly going to be true when the adoption of wearables and sensor devices really takes off. AI, in the form of machine learning, has real potential to drive insights into actions. It may be that these insights will be driven primarily by machine intelligence in the not too distant future.

During the visit to Boston I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel hosted by BBK. My colleagues on the panel were Spyros Papapetropoulos from Cavion and Georgia Mitsi from Sunovion.

We discussed key factors for adopting technology in clinical studies and for healthcare in general. It was a lively debate, with lots of agreement but also some challenging points raised. What always comes through in these talks is the passion that people genuinely have for improving the lives of others. It’s something that I share and I consider it a privilege to be working alongside such genuinely motivated and caring people.

You can view a video of the BBK panel session here.

Justin Johnson, CEO

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