People more likely to take part in trials that use decentralized tech: study

Cancer patients are more likely to take part in clinical trials that use decentralized technologies, according to analysis by U.S. researchers.

The survey, conducted by American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS/CAN) researchers, looked at the impact “decentralization tools”—wearable and self-report systems, online portals, etc.—have on patient participation in drug trials.

The key finding is that decentralized technologies boost enrollment rates. According to the researchers, the majority of the 1,183 patients surveyed said they would be more likely to sign up to a study if the participation-related time and travel burdens were reduced.

“If given the opportunity to enroll in a cancer clinical trial that required travel farther than their regular care, a majority of respondents indicated that they would be more likely to participate if the trial used decentralized tools that would decrease the need for travel to a trial site,” lead author Devon Adams, senior policy analyst for emerging science at ACS/CAN, told Fierce Biotech. 

The implication is that decentralized or hybrid studies are more likely to hit enrollment targets than traditional site-based studies. These studies are more convenient and accessible, according to Adams. 

The ACS/CAN study also looked at other factors that make it hard for patients to enroll and found decentralized tools can help address those issues, too.

“It goes beyond the pure physical challenge of getting to the trial sites. For example, the financial challenges of trial enrollment: cost of transportation, lost wages due to time off, finding childcare, lodging and food costs if the trial is not located close to a patient’s home, etc.,” Adams said.

The study findings are in keeping with separate research by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development that suggested decentralized trials help reduce costs and accelerate enrollment.

“In my view, trial sponsors should explore the use of technology or other tools to reduce patient time and travel burdens associated with clinical trial participation when designing trials because it could improve enrollment in cancer trials," Adams said.

By making it easier for patients to take part in drug research, decentralized trial technologies can also help sponsors and CROs make clinical trials more diverse, Adams added.