The management of clinical research has changed substantially since the launch of electronic systems such as patient diaries, data capture solutions, and interactive web response systems.

Now it’s the turn of tablet devices.

Tablets may very well be one of the fastest tools to be adopted into the clinical research space. Here are just five ways in which tablets can be used:

1. Screen patients via electronic medical records − An alternative to rifling through years of medical records and trying to decipher illegible handwritten notes is a simple and comprehensive glance then flick on a tablet to reveal if a patient is suitable for the clinical trial. The patient’s medical history is quite literally a fingertip away.

2. Educate patients and their caregivers – While informed consent forms are primarily paper-based, the tools to explain the study to patients don’t have to be. High resolution images or animations illustrating patients’ current conditions and how a study drug is expected to work can provide concrete and vivid concepts. Using a tablet, the process to consenting patients becomes a far more interactive and engaging experience.

3. Data integration – More often than not, clinical trial processes that are meant to be interconnected are carried out in silos. When it comes to making sense of numbers, this silo-approach creates a challenge to collating meaningful but high-level data. The implementation of a tablet device in this scenario allows site staff to view the metrics pertaining to their site or country in comparison to other sites or countries. This type of global view on a single dashboard in real time eliminates the need for daily/weekly reports.

4. Tracking– Tracking can refer to investigational drugs, compliance, patient materials, site materials, training of new staff, audible reminders; you name it and a tablet can be programmed to track it. What was previously paper logs and order forms can now be housed in a single tablet with either online or offline access.

5. Portability – Tablet devices are not meant to replace desktop computers or laptops. Rather, tablets give you the option to not wheel around your desktop computer on a portable stand or carry a heavy laptop that needs to boot up each time you close the lid of the screen. Recall one of our previous blogs – Health Information at Your Finger Tips? Tablets provide you with just that.

The tablet has made a successful debut in a clinical research setting by streamlining processes and enhancing efficiencies. In an industry that is typically slower to respond to new technologies, the tablet has quickly gained the approval of physicians, site staff and sponsors.

Sybil Ngan