While not all clinical trial assessments can be done virtually, there are many that can be adapted for virtual use.Virtual clinical trials are not a new concept, but recent events caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced us to rapidly adapt to their use in clinical trials. For many patients, limiting (or even eliminating) time in the clinic is critical to maintain patient safety. Here, we outline the options for performing clinical trials using virtual research tools and technologies, and how these changes will impact clinical research in the years to come.
Every clinical trial chooses the best clinical research courses of action to collect as much data as possible. Before any of these medications reach the patients, it has to undergo our clinical trial phases. The first phase is also known as the recruitment phase. This is a very crucial stage of the process. It involves the selection of participants for the testing of the new treatment or drug. These participants have to meet certain criteria based on the drug or disease being treated. It involves the enrolment of 20-100 volunteers whose condition has been studied well and monitored over a specified amount of time.
Virtual vs. Remote vs. Clinic Visits
First, we need to be clear on what we mean by virtual visits. For the purpose of this article we will use the following definitions and bear in mind that many researchers are now adapting hybrid models, where different elements of each can be incorporated into any one trial (Figure 1).
A virtual visit is defined as an interaction at a distance facilitated by technology. The people involved are physically separated and are only able to communicate using telephone, video, internet, or some other mode of distance communication (Figure 1).
A remote visit is defined as an interaction at a location away from the clinic or healthcare facility where the clinical research is normally performed. For a remote visit, the people involved are physically together, but they do not have access to the full range of clinic facilities, instruments, and other research staff. The most common type of remote visit would be by a home health provider traveling to a patient’s home, but it also includes a visit conducted at an alternate location different from the research clinic.
A clinic visit is defined as the traditional interaction where the patient physically goes to the research clinic and has full access to staff, facilities, and instruments needed to conduct the clinical trial assessments.
Clinical research trainings are given to every professional involved in the trial. Clinical research trainings are continuously updated based on the disease and development of technology to ensure the complete safety of the participants of the trial.