Don’t Forget Sites in the Move to BYOD

Much attention is given to the improvements in patient experience made possible by BYOD, but there is little discussion of its impact on sites. I believe enabling capture of eClinRO and site-based ePRO through site-owned devices offers significant opportunities to improve the experience for site staff as well.

Sites have struggled with technology adoption for decades. When it comes to ePRO and eClinRO, clinical sites are flooded with vendor-specific tablet devices. These include Windows devices, Chromebooks, and iPads, all of which function differently. They are also tightly managed by the vendors, meaning many of the expected technical features are disabled.

Site IT procedures typically prevent third-party devices from accessing their networks or other site systems, which means provisioned devices must exclusively use mobile networks. For years this has led to ‘basement syndrome’, where mobile connectivity is intermittent due to the location of the department (often in a basement), causing immense frustration for investigators trying to set up devices and complete assessments during site visits.

Configuration settings often prevent staff from sharing devices or from managing multiple patients at a time, a common requirement in locations with high recruitment volumes. This means sites are burdened with storing many devices, keeping them charged, and ensuring staff training is up to date when vendors introduce new models and platforms.

Sponsors can also be impacted. Devices can get held up in customs preventing study starts, they may be required to support site training, or manage complex logistics when devices are damaged, missing components, have incorrect charging adapters, or are simply misconfigured by the vendor. Even when site policies allow local network configuration, study start may encounter delays while the local IT team deals with limited capacity to set up the devices.

With all these challenges driven by provisioning site devices, it makes sense to allow sites to simply download an app or access a website through their own devices. These follow local site security best practices and are familiar to users so would reduce training requirements and could be utilized by multiple site staff members. Not only will this improve the site user experience, but it will also streamline patient data collection activities during (often chaotic) site visits.

Moving away from provisioning would also prevent delays in receiving devices, reduce storage needs, and enable access to local networks which would resolve connectivity issues and significantly reduce data transfer delays, improving data transparency.

It’s time for the industry to adopt BYOD for sites and reduce the burden of device management so they can focus on what matters most — their patients.

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