We are entering a new era of the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement. Having access to the internet has spawned the likes of 3d printers, information sharing, and online courses. Now, building things yourself is easier than ever. Think about it this way, the entire compendium of human knowledge is contained within a 4-inch device in your pocket. Following suit, we started MetricWire because no other solutions existed that could do what we wanted. Our founder Brian needed a powerful solution to capture data when completing his masters, but could not afford an enterprise solution, and no other solution had everything he needed. For this reason, it is more important than ever for our technology to grow and be flexible enough to encompass this DIY way of thinking.
Academics have always been at the forefront of pushing the envelope of technology, and this is why we started working with them to develop a solution so flexible any researcher from any field could build their solution. These researchers have previously cobbled together homemade solutions with pagers and pre-programmed palm pilots from 15 years ago. We can relate them to the likes of Wayne Gretzky, no matter how bad the equipment is that you give them, they are still going to be superstars.
The problem comes around when these researchers spend their time building these solutions instead of actual research. The goal is to be published, and the effort involved in planning and producing these tools is a barrier. They lose time that would be better spent focusing on their research. Our goal was to streamline this process by attempting to create a flexible solution that you still build yourself, selecting features, setting when notifications will go off, etc, but with the framework already built, meaning no programming needed, simply drag and drop.
The healthcare community is another avenue where clinical researchers need better tools to streamline their process. We are seeing a growing number of healthcare professionals and researchers who are advocating the use of smartphone medical devices, and see the benefits of this technology changing the healthcare industry.
In one clinical trial case, we found redundant processes using paper forms. Researchers filled out patient intake forms on paper, then dropped them off to be transcribed by a team. This costs hours of time and was subject to human error and transcription mistakes. Using MetricWire’s interactive tablet form builder, the clinical team was able to have data organized and collated immediately without the need for transcription. They could also catch mistakes in the data in real-time without having to go back and look through hard copies. The platform was flexible enough to allow them to create case report forms (CRF) on a tablet, use the mobile platform as a patient engagement tool, and have both sets of data match up on the back end, saving time and effort on the clinicians’ end.
We are seeing technology begin to transform the research landscape across all industries. It’s a new frontier that is evident from the thousands of hashtags and blogs sprouting terms like mhealth, and digiceuticals. Smartphone and tablet research apps are just the beginning; we are already seeing the rise of wearables and smart watch integration into these platforms. Ideas are essentially limitless, and we should therefore not limit the technology we provide. Developing flexible and customizable frameworks is essential in keeping up to date with what researchers need to continually push the envelope of new research methodologies.