The Future of Remote Trials

October 15, 2020
Lisa Henderson
Volume 29, Issue 10

ACT's Editor-in-Chief, Lisa Henderson, assesses the sustainability of remote trials.

Let’s take a short vocabulary quiz. Full in-person, hybrid, virtual, remote, synchronous, asynchronous are terms used for, a) descriptions of clinical trials, b) types of cars, c) descriptions of learning models for schools during COVID-19. The answer is “c,” but the comparison I was going for is clearly trial design or type of site model. I left out decentralization because that would have been a huge giveaway, and I haven’t seen that term used yet on any school K-college curriculum. While I struggled with understanding synchronous and asynchronous as the two forms of online learning in the beginning, I have it down now. There has been a lot of discussion in clinical trials about the difference between virtual and remote, and I think that has been cleared up also. So let’s dive into the future of hybrid, decentralized, and remote trials.

According to a recent report from Frost & Sullivan, “Hybridization of Clinical Trial Designs Reviving Global CRO Market Post-pandemic; 2019-2024,” hybrid trials and remote patient monitoring are key trends driving the global CRO market. While COVID-19 may in and of itself be a driving force behind the adoption of both hybrid trials and remote patient monitoring, it is also putting downward pressure on the overall CRO market. The company’s analysis suggested that the current ongoing trial disruptions are effecting revenues for the short-term. Frost & Sullivan further expects that revenue will be back to its original growth trajectory by 2024–2025, with a compound annual growth rate of 8.2% and $63.83 billion revenue by 2024, up from $43.03 billion in 2019.

The report also suggested that adoption of hybrid trials by CROs could increase their growth opportunities by enabling uninterrupted trials and cost savings of 15% to 20%; by focusing on long-term collaborations that offer substantial cost advantages with 8% to 13% savings across different trial phases; by leveraging new technologies, such as risk-based monitoring, eConsent, wearables, and telemedicine patient visits; and implementing direct-to-patient model clinical trial supplies

As we will explore in our conference next month, and as Applied Clinical Trials has learned in discussions with clinical trials professionals, there is no shortage of innovative ideas being put forth in both the CROs and investigative sites. There are successful transitions coming from organizations including eConsent (how about virtual reality consent and consents that span clinical to research in an institutional setting?); telehealth for patients that did require a bit more convincing for physicians; launching patient recruitment websites in days down from weeks; and a survey that suggests people have the skills for these new clinical trials, they just need support in adapting to the digital world.

While I’m a supporter of remote and hybrid trials to support patients’ needs and expansion of availability of trials to more people, I have questions about the future of the same for long-time learning purposes. For the clinical research enterprise, the pandemic is bringing great innovation more quickly to an industry willing to move forward with purpose.

Lisa Henderson is Editor-in-Chief of Applied Clinical Trials. She can be reached at lhenderson@mmhgroup.com.

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