Is BYOD Right for Your Clinical Trial? 3 Key Considerations

Multiple types of devices

With the rapid adoption of smart phones and tablets, it’s clear that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has potential in the world of data collection. From the workplace to schools to even healthcare, BYOD can be used in a variety of applications across a wide range of industries. One area in which BYOD is slowly being introduced is in data collection for clinical trials. Given the extreme cost and real world significance of the success or failure of a clinical trial, sponsors, CROs, and site coordinators all have important factors to consider before deciding whether or not BYOD is the best approach for accurate and authentic data collection.

If you’re unsure whether BYOD is right for your clinical trial, here are a few key items to consider:

1. Device sizes and specifications.

Before committing to BYOD, consider that the specs of the device can affect the measurement properties of an instrument. If your ROI depends on accuracy, be sure to do your homework. Here are a few things to look at as you firm up your research: screen size, pixel resolution, accessories, sensors, network specifications, memory storage, Bluetooth connectivity, battery life, and notifications.

2. Operating systems.

The functionality of downloaded software depends on the operating system in use (Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Chrome). Unfortunately, true uniformity of clinical trial software can’t exist unless the same mobile device and operating system are used across the patient pool. Be sure to clearly communicate your needs to your software developers and ask questions before heading down a path that will cost you more resources down the road.

3. Hardware control. 

BYOD is a simple way to ensure subjects are equipped with a device (and one they’re familiar with). However, it means participants hold the control over the device settings, operating systems, and data plans. Before launching BYOD for your clinical trial, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What if a participant purchases a new device mid-trial?
  • What if a participant has insufficient storage space available?
  • How will participants be reimbursed for using personal data plans? How will data be tracked?
  • If Wi-Fi is required, how can we ensure participants will be connected at all times?
  • What if participants mute or turn off alarms and notifications?

While BYOD has it’s place in phase IV trials with minimal participants, tackling a global phase III trial with hundreds of subjects is another story. The best way to handle the complexities of data collection in clinical trials is to ensure uniformity of devices. Although BYOD is an attractive option, accuracy and authenticity of data are critical for trial success. If BYOD isn’t the best option for your trial, explore using provisioned devices or flexible provisioning. When in doubt, connect with a professional who can help you determine what’s right for you.