Pfizer, Brigham and Women's test remote monitoring app for arthritis in clinical trial

By Jonah Comstock
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Correction: A previous version of this article contained inaccuracies based on an out-of-date version of the research proposal. 

Pfizer is working with Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston to test an app for rheumatoid arthritis in a small clinical trial, according to a ClinicalTrials.gov posting. One hundred and ninety patients will be enrolled in the trial, which is set to conclude in September 2018. Pfizer is supporting the study with a $500,000 grant

All of the participants will be rheumatoid arthritis patients who are taking disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD) and plan on receiving follow-up care at the Brigham and Women's Arthritis Center. Half of the patients will be randomized to a group that downloads an app on their existing device after their first doctor visit. The other half will receive usual care. 

The app will deliver daily surveys to participants about their pain, function, and disease activity. A population health manager will view the cohort's survey answers on a dashboard app and connect patients with their healthcare providers as needed.

"The investigators' central hypothesis is that the combined smartphone app and population management system will improve patient satisfaction and management of [rheumatoid arthritis] disease activity," the clinicaltrials.gov posting says.

Pfizer has drugs in the market that target rheumatoid arthritis. It has also launched a number of mobile apps in the past -- they currently have 15 in the US app store. At last year's HIMSS Connected Health Summit, VP of Data and Digital Integrations Judy Seward talked a little about their philosophy on mobile.

"We recognize that the data shows patients expect meaningful digital solutions from us, and it is our obligation to deliver that," she said at the time. "When we think about it at Pfizer, we’re not thinking about what's the next shiny thing, or what's the next widget or what everyone else is doing, but looking through the lens of our patients as people."