Clinical research is the backbone of medical advancement and innovation. The better we’re able to observe, measure, and understand, the higher the probability of developing life-altering treatments, medications, and guidance. But oftentimes, especially in the case of rarer conditions where a meaningful sample size of patients isn’t geographically centralized, logistical limitations can cause developments to stagnate.
Recently, a clinical research team in the Dermatology Department at Stanford School of Medicine began a technology partnership that would masterfully meet these challenges and forever change the way the team conducts its research. The new technology delivered the ability to conduct effective, decentralized research in real-time without worrying about where patients are located.
What was the team at Stanford studying?
The research team within the Dermatology Department at Stanford School of Medicine was studying Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a genetic tissue disorder that causes blisters or tears in fragile skin. As research on the condition is limited, the team needed to study wound healing times and wound characteristics to begin creating the framework for understanding and future study.
What were the research challenges the team was facing?
Critical to the team’s research were the abilities to accurately track wound sizes, wound characteristics, and patient conditions in real-time. Unfortunately, most patients weren’t centrally located in California, where a weekly check-in with researchers was feasible. Additionally, many of the patients across the country were not only far from Stanford, but they were far from any facility with readily-available imaging software that could collect the critical data needed.
The technically advanced yet easy-to-use solution to these issues was found in a surprising location—a smartphone app. But unlike the everyday smartphone apps we find in the app store, this app is backed by a powerful technology company staffed with developers, medical experts, and researchers focused on innovating the way treatment and research happens.
Tissue Analytics, a Net Health company, developed the smartphone app that patients can use to securely send photos of their wounds to researchers and provide status updates on a regular basis. All patients have to do is download the app and then use their smartphone’s camera and the app to send in pictures, information, and updates.
The app automatically maps and labels the wounds, documents changes in size and healing, and fulfills critical information requests from researchers, all without the need of a medical professional on-site with the patient or expensive imaging equipment.
Now, instead of only getting to see patients and track results once or twice a year, the research team in the Dermatology Department at Stanford School of Medicine gets weekly updates from patients no matter where they live. With the constant influx of real-time and readily available data, the team hopes to continue their work free from the logistical limitations of centralized research.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out the full Stanford case study, or you can explore the benefits that Tissue Analytics may be able to bring to your organization. As the world moves more towards telehealth and remote solutions for healthcare as a result of COVID-19, the creative opportunities for this software to revolutionize not only research but the treatment of patients is exciting.