By Katherine Vandebelt, global head of clinical innovation, Oracle Health Sciences
Using a virtual, or decentralized, approach to clinical trials has the potential to improve patient experience and data quality while also accelerating the time it takes to get new drugs on the market. Although these benefits have been apparent for years, the COVID-19 pandemic created an urgent need to implement virtual approaches. As cities, states, and countries enacted stay-at-home orders or put restrictions on face-to-face interactions, patient assessments, monitoring visits, and regulatory inspections were all moved to phone and video-based interactions to keep patients and research teams safe and clinical trials on track.
This quick transition demonstrated that these patient-centric models can work even on large scales. It also helped those involved in clinical trials feel more comfortable and confident in virtual approaches that will likely be the new normal moving forward.
Pharmaceutical companies are realizing that now is the time to take a serious look at the best approaches for designing and implementing virtual clinical trials. Forging ahead with this new way of doing things will require a new mindset, new protocols, and new ways of collecting and handling data.