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Virtual visits provide these 4 benefits in your clinical trial

Cassidi Williams

The pandemic put an obvious strain on the delivery of clinical trials in 2020 that resulted in unprecedented delays and disruptions to operations across the globe. Thousands of trials were suspended or stopped – which taught us a lot of lessons. One of the biggest risk areas that needed to be transformed during the beginning of the pandemic was the need for research staff to be physically on site. As the pandemic hit, it was important to understand the impact that decentralized approaches could have on clinical trials when compared to traditional clinical trials with site-based patient visits. THREAD and Lokavant wanted to better understand how trials adapted over the first three quarters of 2020, so they conducted an analysis, looking at over 1,300 historical trials and ongoing studies, specifically at metrics around enrollment and participation.

What were the results? The analysis demonstrated that while most trials saw a decline in enrollment during January – March 2020, enrollment rebounded between April and May for the THREAD data set (studies leveraging decentralized approaches) and exceeded pre-COVID baseline values.

What does this mean? There are simple, yet effective changes that you can make in your clinical trial not only to mitigate risk but to enhance processes that can improve the outcomes of your study. Virtual visits can be used to supplement some in-clinic visits and to create a flexible and patient-centric model. Not only will you keep your clinical trials moving forward during unprecedented times, but you'll also improve patient engagement within your trial. Here are 4 benefits of virtual visits:

  1. You can recruit candidates without needing to visit a site. With home health assessments and a telehealth call to capture information, you can quality participants off-site.
  2. They will minimize (or eliminate, in some cases) travel for participants. Caregivers and participants face challenges getting to site visits, so adding virtual visits and risk-based quality management allows the study to continue – even under strict quarantine lockdowns.
  3. During unprecedented times, they can offer reliable and promising outcomes. Telehealth virtual visits keep your trial on pace by allowing those conducting the study to communicate and share information with participants easily. The ability to collect study data during a virtual visit using eCOA, CRFs, sensors and eDiaries helps you stay in contact and scale your efforts outside of local borders.
  4. Build and strengthen trust-based relationships with researchers and patients. If contact is limited, like it has been due to lockdown or quarantine restrictions, telehealth can allow those patient visits to continue, creating stronger personal relationships that drive retention.

While virtual visits can't replace in-person site visits for every study, they do provide appealing approaches not only to prevent delays during the pandemic, but also to build value outside of the pandemic context as well. To test a decentralized platform that enables virtual visits, click here.

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