Participating in clinical trials no longer requires candidates to travel to clinical research facilities or the doctor’s office. The mobile device in the candidate’s pocket, the watch on their wrist, or the glasses they are wearing is more than sufficient, thanks to the availability of Virtual Clinical Trials technology. The virtual clinical trials and patient experiences debate is now a debate dominating the pharma industry.
Wearable sensors record the required data, such as body temperature and glucose levels. This information is then sent automatically to electronic data capture (EDC) records. The only thing the study personnel needs to do is visit the patient’s home for drug administration and follow-up.
Better still, as the visit time approaches, the mobile device may provide automated reminders to prepare the patient for the appointment. The patient may even choose to reschedule the meeting within the allowed timeframe.
Virtual clinical trials have several advantages over traditional site-based trials that use multiple study sites and require several patient visits to the site.
The most obvious advantage is that the new virtual approach maximizes patient availability and study enrollment. These two areas (availability and enrollment) often take the longest time during clinical trials, with about 80% of trials failing to meet enrollment targets.
A common reason why site-based trials fail to meet enrollment targets is that patients must visit the designated research facility. It’s a setup that may discourage people with mobility issues, such as elderly patients and people living in rural areas, from participating.
Virtual Clinical trials eliminate the need to visit the physical study facility, a convenience bound to increase the number of patients willing and able to participate. Furthermore, electronic health records can help identify increasingly targeted trial subjects and online patient networks to raise awareness for trials and directly recruit candidates.
Another significant advantage of virtual clinical trials is the potential for improved and increased patient engagement. Studies show that as many as 40% of Phase III trial subjects are disengaged. Indeed, many participants drop out at Phase III for lack of engagement.
Researchers attribute this high rate of attrition to inconvenience. For instance, many people are thrilled to travel to the study site. Initially, they may be excited by the prospect of participating. But, after traveling to the location several times, the excitement fades. The complexity of the trial design and data collection methods may also tire participants.
Virtual clinical trials remove the need to travel frequently to trial sites, thus increasing patient engagement and retention. The approach also substantially simplifies data collection.
In the virtual trial approach, data from remote monitoring devices can be accessed by trial investigators in real-time. This opens up efficiency opportunities in data cleaning. Better still, it’s an approach that can be transformed into an ongoing process rather than cyclical.
Remote monitoring capabilities could also further facilitate an adaptive clinical trial approach, potentially allowing for trial design improvements depending on takeaways from collected data. This can boost the patient experience.
Above all, clinical trials allow researchers to make decisions to terminate a drug’s development more easily. For instance, if patient safety is at risk or budget issues arise, the research can be suspended or terminated altogether.
Virtual clinical trials and patient experiences
Many organizations, including Wipro, are using virtual clinical trials to achieve their targets while boosting customer experiences. Wipro, specifically, depends on Salesforce-powered clinical trial solutions to;
A significant drawback to this novel idea is that not every clinical trial can be conducted at home. Specific assessments, such as MRIs, invisible therapies, and radiation therapy, can only be undertaken in a brick-and-mortar facility with medical personnel.
It’s important to remember, though, that even in these cases, specific tasks, such as blood draw, weigh-ins, and blood pressure monitoring, can be safely undertaken at home.
Virtual clinical trials and patient experiences is already a big discussion in the pharmaceutical industry. The virtual clinical trials approach guarantees increased patient enrollment by eliminating common impediments to participation and improved patient engagement by minimizing participant inconveniences. Researchers can also look forward to reduced drug development risks.
Remember that virtual trials also provide groups with vested interests in the trial’s success, including governments, investors, and health agencies, more opportunities to play an active role in the study.
A few challenges exist, though. For one, virtual clinical trials, though hugely promising, doesn’t work for all types of clinical trials. Additionally, attributing digitally collected data to the individual under observation and providing meaningful feedback to the participant may require extra effort.