Two-thirds of healthcare experts plot virtual trial use as a result of COVID-19: report

A new report from life science data analytics firm GlobalData has found that two-thirds of healthcare experts surveyed over the summer plan to use decentralized clinical trials.

This is a direct result of COVID-19, during which the use of siteless tech related to home visits, deliveries and telehealth was actively encouraged by the FDA and a necessity in allowing trials to continue during the pandemic lockdown.

GlobalData’s survey of these experts, carried out in June, found 67% “plan to use decentralized clinical trials in the near future due to COVID-19.”

But the key part of that sentence was "plan to use," as out of 150 survey respondents, only 34% were already using decentralized clinical trials, with most located in North America. Not surprisingly, contract service providers “were the biggest current adopters,” the firm found.

“Respondents overwhelmingly noted that the shift toward decentralized clinical trials was already planned, but COVID-19 sped up this timeline to the next 1–2 years,” said Brooke Wilson, trials intelligence associate director at GlobalData.

“The top reason given for this shift was for the greater accrual of patients. The majority of respondents also consider the cost of decentralized clinical trials to be lower than that of traditional trials.”

This comes as CROs and specific virtual trial companies, such as Science 37 and Medable, have been ramping up their siteless approaches. Science 37 grabbed a $40 million funding round this month, while Medable teamed up with Datavant to help it run decentralized trials.

More and more CROs and biopharmas are also tapping these companies, while CROs themselves are shifting gears to find ways around the COVID-19 disruption.

“The top challenge for transitioning to decentralized clinical trials relates to the changes that need to be made to procedures, processes, and/or systems, followed by unclear regulatory acceptance,” said Revati Tatake, databases and analytics global director at GlobalData.

“Because of this, many adaptations are expected in order to succeed in transitioning to a decentralized clinical trials model.”