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Integrating Mobile Technology Into Healthcare: A Clinical Trial Success Story

The effect of using Mobile health apps during a clinical trial weight loss study was explored in a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine article.

The study, titled “Integrating Technology into Standard Weight Loss Treatment: A Randomized Controlled Trial”, was 12 months long with 70 participants (mean age 57.7 years, 85.5% male) with a BMI > 25.  There were two groups of participants: those who received standard physician care (Standard treatment), and those who received standard treatment supplemented with Mobile health apps (+Mobile treatment).

Patients in the +Mobile group remotely monitored diet, exercise, and weight on PDAs. This data was submitted daily by participants at the start of the clinical trial and tapered out to once a month by the end of the study. A status thermometer on the screen of the PDA was then updated automatically based on the patient’s entered data. This allowed patients to remain up to date with their total intake and energy levels for each day.

Results were in favor of Mobile health apps use. Data showed that the +Mobile group lost 8.6 pounds more, on average than the Standard group. Additionally, 36% of participants in the +Mobile group lost at least 5% of their initial body weight, as compared with 0% of the Standard group, at the three-month time point. These results occurred due to an intensive multicomponent behavioral treatment consisting of physician care alongside supplemental mobile technology use. Thus, two components were implemented to aid in weight loss, with only one (direct care) requiring extensive time and training by physicians. This addition of Mobile health apps is an easy adjustment that can be made in many clinical trial settings without additional effort by primary investigator physicians!

Photo used with permission of author, Bonnie Spring.

Photo used with permission of the author, Bonnie Spring.

This study shows the promise of mHealth technology in patient care and clinical trials. Not only is mobile technology successful in engaging participants, it also requires less intensive time and instruction by physicians and more remote commitment of the patients. The power and potential of mHealth technology in creating healthy change is evident in these results. Mobile technology is truly a building block to the next level of successful patient care in clinical trials!

To learn more about implementing mobile technology in research, visit http://www.mosio.com/research.

Author: Emily Waller holds an Honors B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, has worked on numerous clinical trials, and as a medical & technical writer.  She writes to promote innovative ideas in healthcare, technology, and research within the online community.  She also loves photography, neuroscience, and household DIY projects.

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