From B to C: The Advent of CYOD

BYOD has been a buzzword in the clinical trial space since mProve Health got started in 2010. We have seen the movement go from risky and heavily-hyped to a conservatively accepted. From our start in ePRO, we’ve been driving the BYOD bandwagon. Now, though, we want to pull over and ask for directions. That stopover is CYOD.

We’ve pushed hard for BYOD in ePRO because of the heap of logistical issues with provisioning. Sponsors and provisioning companies have to contend with cross-border customs, constantly evolving tech, and patients’ unwillingness to haul around extra devices. For a global study, the sponsor may have to ship a device to fifteen countries with different regulations, cross their fingers that their patients don’t leave the devices at home, and then do it all over again when the phone is obsolete two years in.

In the past few years of providing ePRO collection, we’ve realized two things: One, that BYOD and provisioning aren’t as incompatible as we imagined. Two, that it will be a while before the industry will accept 100% BYOD, as the number of patients resisting a provisioned device hasn’t yet hit a critical threshold. Though BYOD is here to stay, we needed to come to a more sophisticated understanding of the model that takes these factors into account. We’re calling this evolution CYOD: “Choose Your Own Device.”


How does CYOD work?

Under the CYOD model, patients can make a decision based on what works best for them. The patient centricity movement has gained traction throughout the industry, so giving patients agency over how they participate in an ePRO study only makes sense. Partial provisioning—usually anywhere from 25-75%—offers a middle route that can avoid the pitfalls of BYOD and full provisioning.

Offering choice over which device patients use will flatten the learning curve going into the study. It will also make the study more convenient for the patient in the long-term, whether that means not being committed to expensive personal smartphone ownership or the freedom from carrying multiple devices. Removing device frustration will eliminate a big obstacle for the tech-wary or the dropout-prone.

Non-smartphone owners are not excluded from participation, expanding the patient pool into more demographics. If patients do have a smartphone but want to keep their health information off their personal device, they may choose a provisioned smartphone as well. A similar trend toward flexibility has taken over other industries, too: Many corporations in the mid- to late- 2000s, for instance, wanted to steer their employees toward entrenched Blackberry devices for work. A decade ago, those same employees started buying iOS and Android devices. The inflexible system had to go, birthing CYOD in the corporate provisioning world. This is a cautionary tale against making too many choices on the end users’ behalf. The demand for choice will lead pharmaceutical provisioning the same direction.


The advantage of flexibility

In addition, incumbent eCOA providers have designed their systems to only work on provisioned devices. This means that many eCOA apps only work on single platforms (usually Android, or worse, Windows Mobile). These apps can only be deployed to the device through a centralized process. They also only work if the entire device is “locked down,” which completely rules out BYOD use. In short, the eCOA “old guard” didn’t plan well for BYOD, and Choose Your Own Device  won’t work for them either. A system like mPulse can take advantage of choice. In designing for BYOD, we created our ePRO platform with all operating systems, screen sizes, and device capabilities in mind. The mPulse system works equally well on any phone, regardless of who paid for it.

Ultimately, the trend toward flexibility is one that has taken over many industries. Observing this trend cautions us against making too many choices on end users’ behalf. Many corporations in the mid- to late- 2000s, for instance, wanted to steer their employees toward entrenched Blackberry devices for work. But, a decade ago, Blackberry got lapped by Google and Apple. Those same employees started buying iOS and Android devices, revolting against company-imposed Blackberries and insisting on wider device choice. That revolt led corporate provisioning toward BYOD and CYOD, and it will lead pharmaceutical provisioning the same direction. We see CYOD as one model among many that transfers some agency away from the boardroom and further towards the patient. In offering choice, studies can provide for the diverse set of patient needs that has been there all along.

But how will CYOD affect study sites? Stay tuned for our next CYOD feature!