The need for new evaluation methods for eHealth and mHealth services – study of a dynamic concept for efficient trials
Researchers know that when you plan a project, you try to account for delays in the schedule – yet, even then, we often request extensions.
A 2015 report concluded that a staggering majority of studies (86%) do not finish within the intended period, nor produce the results that they aimed to. This is especially true for studies that test complex interventions using mobile health (eHealth and mHealth) technologies. Unfortunately, these technologies are often obsolete by the time studies are completed due to their rapid development in the eHealth and mHealth market.
As a result, any knowledge gained about potential treatment options for patients may be outdated and therefore, of limited value. What we need is a way to more efficiently and effectively plan and manage studies so that our results remain relevant and useful for patients, providers and health authorities.
Traditionally, studies are managed by a project leader and project team, who aim to follow project schedules, adhere to strict study designs, oversee several participants and collect complete data sets. The manner in which these goals are completed – the time they spend, how team members communicate and coordinate tasks and the resources used to do so – lead to either the success or failure of a project.
Prior to this project, we developed and tested a dynamic study-management platform to streamline each stage of our mobile health studies. This platform provides many of the functionalities that other state-of-the-art study-management systems offer, including the ability to recruit, track participant progress through a study, send questionnaires and receive responses as well as other data types remotely from a secure web-interface. We believe that by coordinating and performing study administration tasks electronically, we can more efficient and effective complete successful studies than traditional means alone.
- To identify the factors that hinder or facilitate the successful completion of eHealth and mHealth intervention studies.
- To increase our knowledge and ability to perform more efficient and effective studies in the future by addressing these factors.
We plan to analyse how two projects managed their studies using the in-house developed study-administration platform, and how two projects used both traditional paper-based, in-person and electronic means to administer and manage their studies. We will compare factors such as time required to complete each stage of these studies, the resources and tools used by the researchers and any issues that were encountered that could explain how a study succeeded or were hindered in achieving the study aims.