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Adopting Decentralised Clinical Research

Across the world we are at a pivotal stage in the Covid-19 pandemic, where countries are beginning to reopen and paused health services are reigniting support for their patients. If clinical research has not been Covid-specific, it has been almost entirely stalled. Research centres have next to no volunteers and companies are itching for a way to continue their studies.

June 2020

Adopting Decentralised Clinical Research

 

Across the world we are at a pivotal stage in the Covid-19 pandemic, where countries are beginning to reopen and paused health services are reigniting support for their patients. If clinical research has not been Covid-specific, it has been almost entirely stalled. Research centres have next to no volunteers and companies are itching for a way to continue their studies. 

 

There has been a renewed sense of urgency for there to be a rapid implementation of enhanced healthcare capabilities. We are faced with an opportunity to refresh how studies are conducted and improve data collection. The decentralisation of clinical trials is a popular topic which has been supported by the continued advances in technology across the healthcare industry. 

 

Why decentralisation?

Decentralisation is sometimes perceived as conducting trials in the absence of healthcare professionals altogether, which it is not. It can include terms such as remote, virtual and off-site. The goal? As with any technology, it is to make lives easier. To make clinical trials less stagnated for patients by reducing the need to travel and wait for in-person appointments. Providing more options of convenience and maximising each stage of the process, which could reduce drop-out rates and speed up the steps to market. Technology can enable CROs to approach clinical research and trials with an arsenal of tools, providing a much-needed face lift to an outdated and inflexible system.

 

“Decentralisation has the primary goal of making clinical trial participation as easy as possible, studies have revealed”;

  • 70% of patients live more than two hours from a research site
  • In 50% of clinical trials, participants find it difficult to stay enrolled due to poor health and consistency travel
  • 85% of trials fail to retain enough patients

 

The last four months have completely redesigned the clinical trial landscape. Patient’s inability to travel far and a lack of confidence in going to medical facilities has meant that companies are becoming data reliant and will need to adopt a decentralised software for data collection. 

 

How can the integration be successful?

Could this isolation period of Covid-19 give way to a better system of collecting information? Wearable sensors and other real-time devices could help clinical readings create an accurate representation of what they are trying to achieve, while removing the hurdle of travel and delayed results. A possible gateway to optimising processes around patient circumstances.

 

With any piece of new technology or initiative, the transition and integration take time. Decentralised clinical research exists in multiple stages. For some businesses moving to a fully remote operation may not be possible, but it does not mean that incorporating virtual and remote factors would not be of benefit. These trials require a significant amount of infrastructure costs and change management. Large companies with a high volume of legacy employees will be some of the last to adopt these practices because it automates many of their jobs, so a gradual approach would be a better fit.

 

Decentralised trials should soon be classed as a necessity. As we have seen across multiple sectors, technology is no longer a nice-to-have accessory. It can be used to ensure clinical trials continue to progress, even when patients are advised to stay at home. Other research outside of Covid-19 will return in stages and a decentralised system can ensure a quicker turn around on already extensively delayed research.