New technologies including wearable monitors will offer up an abundance of new information – big data – that will transform how patients view and even participate in their own care health care.

That’s the conclusion of an analysis conducted by Duke Medicine researchers, which was published in the July 2014 issue of Health Affairs.

With patient information available and accessible in real time, health studies can integrate data from a much larger pool. This information can be applied to long-term research as well as patient care in the near term.

“When linked to the rest of the available electronic data, patient-generated health data completes the big data picture of real people’s needs, life beyond the health care system, and how changes in health and health care lead to meaningful changes in people’s lives,” senior author Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the Center for Learning Health Care at Duke said in a statement.

The Duke researchers say electronic health records will play a major role in providing information for analysis from a wider and more diverse pool of participants than is typically available now. This information can be used for research purposes; it can also be applied to the care of current and future patients.

The researchers make the case in their analysis that big data and comparative effectiveness research have the potential to greatly enhance the health of both individual patients and whole populations. This data will offer an alternative to randomized controlled clinical trials, considered gold standard of medical studies for new therapies.

“Generalizing data from these trials to larger, more heterogeneous populations to determine treatment effectiveness can be problematic,” Abernethy said. “Further, it takes years — often more than a decade — for a trial to progress from the idea stage to actionable information, and cost and complexity mean that some important questions go unanswered.”

Abernethy has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, DARA Bioscience (NASDAQ:DARA), GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Helsinn, Dendreon (NASDAQ:DNDN), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE).

In addition to Abernethy, the paper’s authors include Lynn Howie, Bradford Hirsch and Tracie Locklear.