The new iPad is here and, if sales are any indication, the tablet wave is growing even stronger. Some tech journalists are even predicting that tablets (coupled with cloud-based storage) will bring about the end of the PC. If you follow this blog, you know that I am very interested in the possible application of tablet use in medical practice and clinical trials. While there is still a scarcity of any real information on their use in drug development, I am beginning to find some practical applications that could lead to further industry adoption of tablet computers and clinical trial app use in medicine and clinical trials.
I now know of one pharmaceutical company that has switched to using tablets for their preclinical lab notebooks. This is as a huge leap forward for connectivity and information sharing. Historically, results were stored in scientists' notebooks (the old paper ones – I am not talking about small laptops). This meant the information was rarely communicated beyond those that worked on the project within the lab. Findings were not shared throughout the company which meant that experiments were often repeated because one group did not know another group's set of results!
Now everything will be linked, making it easy to share information and eliminating costly redundancies. All experimental data and notes will be recorded and collected on a tablet and entered into a database. Information will now be searchable and easily shared. The onboard camera even means pictures of results or slides can be taken and databased. Hand drawings of the slides or findings will become a thing of the past.
My personal favorite app for storing information, although not specifically a clinical trial app, is Evernote. My colleague Paul Hopper (VP of Enterprise IT) put me on to this piece of software. It is agnostic to the platform, so I have it installed on my laptop, iPad, work PC and personal computer. OK, yes I probably do have too many computers! I have the ability to either save a web page, cut an item out or post a document, recording or any other kind of file in the cloud. Each device synchronizes the app and anything stored immediately becomes available on any platform. I have used this very effectively to save info I see that may be a useful for a blog. I can be offline to use it, which is great when I am traveling. I have also started to use it for personal items and plan to set my wife up with it so we can have shared areas that we can sync. It is similar to "Dropbox," which I also use, but has some extended functionality that I find very helpful.
With some additional set up, this could be a very useful tool for sharing clinical information. So what other apps or software are people using out there that might be of help in the clinical trial or drug development world? Please share your comments with me below.