Contemporary Clinical Trials
Volume 100 January 2021
Research article Abstract only
Using digital technologies in clinical trials: Current and future applications
Carmen Rosa, Lisa A. Marsch, Erin L. Winstanley, Meg Brunner, Aimee N.C. Campbell
In 2015, we provided an overview of the use of digital technologies in clinical trials, both as a methodological tool and as a mechanism to deliver interventions. At that time, there was limited guidance and limited use of digital technologies in clinical research. However, since then smartphones have become ubiquitous and digital health technologies have exploded. This paper provides an update to our earlier publication and an overview of how technology has been used in the past five years in clinical trials, providing examples with varying levels of technological integration and across different health conditions. Digital technology integration ranges from the incorporation of artificial intelligence in diagnostic devices to the use of real-world data (e.g., electronic health records) for study recruitment. Clinical trials can now be conducted entirely virtually, eliminating the need for in-person interaction. Much of the published research demonstrates how digital approaches can improve the design and implementation of clinical trials. While challenges remain, progress over the last five years is encouraging, and barriers can be overcome with careful planning.