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Bring Your Own Device in Clinical Research: The Four C’s

“BYOD” or “bring your own device” is the future of clinical studies, and sponsors are embracing what will become the new standard. Subjects using their own devices to fill out diaries and input data is not only less expensive for sponsors, but it’s more convenient for subjects, meaning improved compliance, data fidelity, and broader data points are made possible.

One study found nearly 90% of patients hoarded their paper diary entries, completing them all at once, often just before a clinical appointment, demonstrating the so-called “parking lot effect.” E-PROs appear to improve compliance, but what if we go one step further? Instead of supplying the bulky devices required for filling out the diaries, subjects use their smartphones they carry everywhere.


BYOD allows study managers to see who’s not complying in real time, since the data from entries are received instantaneously. When a subject is not adhering, reminders can be sent directly to their mobile phones. A reminder sent to an ePRO or an email isn’t as effective since the device to input the data isn’t likely to be readily available when the reminder is received.

Moreover, the BYOD model allows for easy integration with other devices. So as the subject’s Fitbit counts the steps taken in a day, the two devices integrate and the data is sent in real time to study managers. This automatic process means more accuracy, greater speed, and streamlined reporting.


Drawing data from Fitbits, Apple Watches and other Bluetooth devices is obviously very convenient for subjects, however, most studies today require some diary entries, which take time to complete. Since most people carry their mobile phones with them at all times, the BYOD model means subjects can input data while waiting in line for morning coffee, while riding the subway or during their lunch breaks –making the bring your own device model highly preferable. If a protocol requires a subject to track meals, it’s easier to input real-time data while eating instead of recalling that on-the-go meal hour, often days after it was eaten – do you remember what you ate for breakfast last Wednesday?

Centricity (Patient Centricity)

More than simply convenience, BYOD trials improve the overall patient experience. The BYOD model can reduce the number of site visits required, while increasing the engagement with study coordinators –something patients crave.

In a BYOD trial, a patient has easier access to the PI. Communicating with the study team is as simple as sending a text message, and often a patient receives a response within minutes. This means no more phoning the study team, hearing a receptionist on the other end of the line and waiting for a return call. Improving access to the study team and empowering patients to be engaged in their health in a less invasive way, says; “patient-centric.”


In 2016, the cost of bringing a drug to market was estimated to be a whopping $2.6 billion. As pharma companies feel pressure to lower the price of drugs for payers, and ultimately patients, the cost of clinical trials becomes center stage. While BYOD isn’t going to solve the cost problem alone, it’s a prime example of how properly leveraged technology can reduce costs.

Allowing subjects to use their own devices can reduce costs substantially for sponsors since they don’t have to purchase or lease devices to give to subjects, not to mention the cost of training subjects to use the devices, cost of replacement for lost or broken devices and supporting them with the tech issues throughout the duration of the trials.

BYOD in clinical research allows for flexibility and convenience for patients, which will ultimately improve compliance, reduce costs and enrich the data pool for everyone. Stay tuned for our next blog about the most frequently asked questions regarding BYOD and our answers.


For more information on bring your own device in clinical research, visit SPRIM’s portfolio company, ObvioHealth.