This year the city of Edinburgh played host to a first time event called the MCT-Congress. The event was hosted at Edinburgh’s award winning conference centre, the EICC.
We attended as delegates with a view to getting a good look at the clinical trial industry from the subject/patient aspects of trial management.
The theme of the event was the application of mobile with clinical trials and it lasted for two days giving platform to a number of speakers from the clinical trials, healthcare and technology industries. Although there was a lot of focus on clinical trials, there was also a lot of talk about mHealth and it’s consumer led focus. Everyone was in agreement that in the right context, a mobile device becomes a medical device.
The clinical trial industry is comparatively slow moving and heavily regulated compared to technology industries, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the uptake of mobile data collection in clinical trials has taken a long time to gain any traction.
But now there seems to be momentum gathering. Certainly it’s still early, but I don’t think anyone at the conference doubted that mobile is starting to play a significant role in clinical trials. And I don’t think that once they are used, there’s any going back.
On the Friday there was a panel discussion with the US FDA called ‘Regulating Mobile Medical Services’ delivered via videoconference. Much to the surprise of some of the delegates and speakers, the FDA successfully delivered the message that they were heavily in favour of the use of mobile technology within clinical trials. That’s not to say that there aren’t hard regulatory rules to conform to still, but at the same time the FDA would be supportive.
Another major theme of the event was the use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in clinical trials and mHealth. For many clinical trials the mobile devices are provisioned and given out to the trial subjects. The reasons are obvious – if you want total control then provisioning the devices yourself is a safe bet. You know they’re going to work when a subject gets their hands on them.
However, there’s a cost associated with that. Provisioning mobile devices is costly, particularly when the subject size within a trial gets into the thousands. So there was a lot of discussion regarding the savings possible with BYOD. Of course, now you have to have a plan in case the data capture software doesn’t work on the devices for some reason and that sparked talks about help desks and other support plans.
BYOD has its challenges but it does seem in our opinion that this choice will become more popular over time due to the savings and ubiquity of mobile devices.
In closing, the MCT-Congress was a great event – particularly because it was the first one held.
We’ll be attending the next one in 2015.