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RTI International, Validic to optimize data from wearables like Fitbit for health research

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— RTI International and Validic have partnered to optimize consumer wearable and health sensor data for research. This partnership creates an opportunity to use personal health data in comprehensive and innovative ways to answer questions about health, wellness, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Initially, RTI and Validic will work together to better understand how teenagers’ health, social experience, genetic profile and living situation affect their health and behavior later in life. Additional research projects will follow.

Once Validic validates and delivers patient-recorded data from wearable devices, RTI will leverage the information – like wearer’s level of physical activity, sleep, heart rate and other health behaviors – for research on health, wellness, and more.  

Nearly 20 percent of Americans own a consumer wearable device such as activity trackers and smartwatches, and by 2017, the wearable market is expected to exceed $4 billion. Consumer wearable devices and the data associated with them are also getting significant attention within research communities. The number of clinical trials using wearable devices for data collection has grown to more than 129 trials, and the number of scientific papers published on these devices has reached 225 papers.  

Beyond providing wearers their daily step-count, these popular devices offer researchers a new way to collect data including level of physical activity, sleep, heart rate and other health indicators. RTI and Validic aim to ensure these data are optimized for rigorous health research.

“Relatively little is known about the validity and reliability of consumer devices and there has not been much work done to pair large samples of these data with other, more traditional sources, like survey responses and clinical records,” said Robert Furberg, Ph.D., senior clinical informaticist at RTI and co-author of a study on the reliability and accuracy of activity trackers. “We’re in an unusually good position to help researchers access, appreciate, and analyze the output from this new generation of data collection instruments.”

The Validic platform enables personal health information from wearable trackers, smartphone applications, and in-home clinical devices to be securely captured, standardized and delivered to clients’ systems. By streamlining access to nearly 400 different connected devices – such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Omron, Withings, MyFitnessPal – Validic is helping the industry shift from managing symptoms to better diagnosing and treating conditions.

“The nature of chronic disease is often intrinsically related to lifestyle decisions,” said Validic CEO and Co-Founder Drew Schiller. “Real-time, real-world data that can be captured in patients’ daily lives is a powerful tool to optimize clinical research and care delivery. Effective interoperability is key to having valid data captured in a consistent manner that will allow it to be a reliable part of both prevention and treatment. We are excited to have RTI join our client ecosystem along with leading hospitals, health systems, pharma, wellness organizations and healthcare technology companies.”