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Digital Biomarkers and Advanced Analytics: The future of Medicine

Johannes Rennig
Nov 1, 2023

Modern digital tools, such as smartphones and wearable devices, have the potential to revolutionize the way we gather and track health information, often referred to as digital biomarkers, from individuals. The widespread adoption of mobile technologies holds tremendous potential to address the health monitoring needs of our aging global population. It also serves as the cornerstone for the continuous collection of digital health data, or digital biomarkers, paving the way for the eventual delivery of digital therapeutics. In many cases, individuals with chronic medical conditions may only visit a healthcare provider once or twice a year and might not accurately recall their day-to-day well-being. Digital biomarkers and therapeutics, therefore, have great potential to fill the current gaps and unmet needs in diagnostics and global health care.

Digital biomarkers and advanced analytics to support data-driven decision making in clinical trials

The advancement of wearable devices, including smartphones, smartwatches, specialized textiles, and other monitoring tools, has the potential to significantly expedite clinical research and development. These devices track clinically relevant signals and monitor symptoms, offering objective data with minimal patient involvement. Using digital biomarkers obtained through digital devices, such as smartphones and wearables, it is possible to measure physiological signals and behavioral data which provide insights into health-related outcomes. This objective data collection, together with a significantly lowered patient burden, has the potential to make clinical trials more precise, efficient, and smaller in scale.

Specifically, the study of digital biomarkers offers the prospect of continuous, noninvasive monitoring of diseases at a substantially lower cost compared to traditional intermittent follow-up appointments, often spaced months apart, and clinic visits. While the field of digital biomarkers is relatively new, the availability of large volumes of longitudinal digital biomarker data holds promise for numerous emerging applications, potentially heralding a digital healthcare revolution. This vision hinges on the use of consumer-oriented devices for data collection and the application of innovative statistical methods, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to interpret, infer, and predict health-related outcomes in diverse ways.

Digital biomarkers as an innovative tool in various medical fields

Digital biomarkers are increasingly being utilized across various disease areas to provide valuable insights into the management and treatment of health conditions. In neurological disorders, smartphones with accelerometers can record a person’s gait, providing data that can help track the progression of motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease or mobile apps and computer-based assessments can monitor changes in cognitive function, enabling early intervention and personalized care in Alzheimer’s disease. To monitor mental health, smartphone apps can collect data on a person’s mood, sleep patterns, and social interactions, which can be used to identify early signs of depression or anxiety. Voice analysis software can detect changes in speech patterns, aiding in the diagnosis and monitoring of post-traumatic stress disorder. In the field of cardiovascular diseases, wearable devices and ECG-enabled smartphones can continuously monitor a person’s heart rhythm, detecting irregularities such as atrial fibrillation. Blood pressure monitoring apps and devices can help individuals and healthcare professionals track blood pressure trends over time, aiding in the management of hypertension. In respiratory diseases, wearable devices can monitor respiratory rate and oxygen levels, enabling early detection of exacerbations in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Future developments in the field of digital biomarkers

Nevertheless, several critical questions surrounding the practical implementation of digital biomarkers in medical practice remain unanswered. These include, but are not limited to, the discovery of novel associations or predictive models for health-related outcomes based on physiological and behavioral data gathered through digital devices for clinical use, innovations in advanced big data analytics, the development of strategies or models to minimize inconsistencies in digital biomarker data measurements between devices, data privacy strategies, models for the ethical collection of digital biomarker data, and the utilization of digital biomarkers for monitoring purposes in healthcare settings, homes, and translational care, as well as in clinical decision support.

The transformative potential of digital biomarkers is reshaping the landscape of future medicine development and holds the promise of highly personalized treatments. This paradigm shift has the potential to improve healthcare and greatly enhance the lives of patients.


Johannes Rennig

Johannes Rennig holds a PhD in Neuroscience and has several years of experience in neurological and neuroscience research using various scientific methods, like structural and functional neuroimaging, motion and eye tracking, and modern data analysis methods, like advanced statistics and machine learning. During the last four years, Johannes was working in one of the worldwide leading pharmaceutical companies conducting proof of concept data analysis projects validating digital biomarkers obtained in clinical trials addressing neurodegenerative diseases.