What COVID-19 Has Taught Us About Virtual Clinical Trials

As we slowly ease ourselves out of the pandemic, we have all had to adapt our everyday lives to be more technology-focused to experience any sense of normality.  To maintain critical clinical research, there has been more discussion than ever surrounding opportunities for implementing improved virtual clinical trial solutions when there are limited options for face-to-face interactions.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Clinical Trials

Research from Medidata shows that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on clinical trials.  On average there was a worldwide decrease of 65% in onboarding new patients during March.  As different parts of the world ease their lockdown measures – those numbers are on their way up again showing improvement in the respective geo locations.  This is in direct correlation with COVID-19.

Of course, the restrictions when it comes to travel for both patients and clinicians are a challenge, as well as the practicalities for patients to be able to collect medication. This was bound to have a significant impact on how clinical trials are conducted.

What is a Virtual Clinical Trial?

The definition of a virtual clinical trial has been up for discussion and interpretation.  Research from the Oracle Health Services suggests that although some people within the clinical space would find a virtual clinical trial an acceptable term when there is the use of patient-facing technology, others felt strongly that virtual trials should only be described as such when every aspect of the trial is based on technology and there are no humans involved. Typically, a hybrid trial or decentralized trial were the preferred terms from the panel at the 2019 CNS Summit.

The phrase virtual clinical trial however has been more prevalent in recent months due to the COVID-19 situation. There has been a significant focus on how patient-facing technologies can and should improve to allow for more clinical research to be completed remotely.  This isn’t important solely due to the current situation – but could improve the way clinical trial teams can do things moving forward.

Why Medical Monitoring Technology is Crucial

With the possible increase of more virtual clinical trials, the need for technology to support patient safety is even more important and the role of the medical monitor in ensuring this is key. Our cloud-based medical monitoring technology seamlessly integrates into the virtual trial process making GCP required medical oversight intuitive and easier for the physicians who can ensure patient safety 24/7/365.  With medical monitoring an integral part of any trial, virtual or not, our technology empowers that process.  With client oversight, medic availability, real-time study documentation access, integrated control centre and, now, with Trial Communicator the ability for direct investigator site to medic interaction all aspects of medical monitoring are covered.