Patient enrollment for trials back to pre-COVID-19 levels: report

A new report out by study management firm Greenphire says patient enrollment for global clinical trials “has returned to pre-COVID levels.”

The global leader in financial life cycle management for clinical trials says patient enrollment for global clinical trials has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels.

The second quarter appears to have been the hardest three months for CROs and other trial service companies, but the new data from Greenphire says enrollment has rebounded, now up 85% since the trough in April, and has surpassed pre-COVID-19 participant enrollment trends (up 3% since January 2020).

This comes after a Greenphire survey in the summer showed 71% of the 150-plus sponsors and CROs that answered said the pandemic forced them to pause existing study enrollments, and 58% had delayed existing study starts.

“The industry was hit hard by COVID-19 and at one point, nearly all research came to a stop. It's impressive to see the rebound in patient enrollment and the industry's ability to respond so quickly, in part by leveraging new technologies which promote flexibility of how visits are conducted,” said Jim Murphy, CEO at Greenphire.

“We anticipate this trend will continue as 84% of our survey respondents said they are actively seeking to increase their use of tools to better support decentralized trials.”

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The firm said that many sites “have shifted their approach,” in lieu of the pandemic, offering local lab support and remote visits. “While successful, these dramatic changes present challenges for sites who have reported increased workload and expenses for items such as PPE and remote monitoring tools”, the report noted.   

“The concept of using technology to help create value in a decentralized or hybrid trial environment isn't new per se, but COVID-19 has certainly encouraged wider adoption by forcing everyone to find ways to bring greater connectivity between clinics and patients,” added Kyle Cunningham, chief product officer at Greenphire. “Timely patient reimbursements, even for small amounts tied to virtual visits, goes a long way to keep patients enrolled in clinical studies that will impact the lives of so many.”