The Digital Age
Before Fitbits were fashionable and kids counted steps at recess, Rob Scott, M.D., AbbVie’s chief medical officer and vice president of development, knew the power of digital health. For 20 years, he has been digitally logging every workout, charting and graphing every bike, swim and run. And while digital health has forever changed the way he and millions of others stay healthy, Scott says the real power of digital health is how, by revolutionizing clinical trials, it can help people who are sick get better.
The very first known controlled clinical trial was conducted by James Lind in 1747 aboard a naval ship, when he showed that oranges and lemons were a cure for scurvy. Ideas like placebos, double blind trials and randomized trials came later, but essentially the clinical trial of 1946 is the same clinical trial we use today.
But it’s not the clinical trial of tomorrow, according to Scott.
We sat down with Scott to hear his thoughts on how digital health will change everything when it comes to clinical trials, from recruitment to helping patients navigate their own trial experience, to collecting better and more accurate data from the trials themselves.
Q. What exactly is digital health?
Rob Scott, M.D.: Well, according to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), digital health could be mobile health, health information technology, wearable devices, telehealth and telemedicine, and personalized medicine. Those are all technical definitions. To me, it’s the power of personal data to improve quality of life. Whether we are talking about skin patches to determine body temperature, wearables to track seizures or sensors that measure the quality of a night’s sleep, digital health technology can provide insight into a person’s health today and even provide clues to future health issues. All of this information is empowering both those participating in clinical trials and those who could benefit from these trials in the future.