PCT 2017

Clinical trends 2020: Virtual trials, patient recruitment and mobile tech

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/Goldfinch4ever
GettyImages/Goldfinch4ever
In three years’ time, patients will participate in clinical trials from home and sponsors will proactively recruit subjects, industry experts predict.

In a panel discussion focused on mobile health and technology in Amsterdam yesterday, representatives said the adoption of virtual trials – whereby patients can undertake trials remotely with the help of mobile devices – is on the rise.  

“The world is changing so fast, in three years we will be running virtual trials for sure,” ​Radboud University Medical Centre’s Marjan Faber told delegates at the Partnerships in Clinical Trials conference.

Vice president of mobile health technology at Medidata Solutions – a clinical research technology provider – Anthony Costello similarly said he hopes virtual trials will be commonplace by 2020.

“I would be thrilled to be running virtual trials in three years’ time,” ​he told delegates.

However, AstraZeneca’s Matthew Bonam said he was less optimistic virtual trials would be fully adopted across the industry by that time.

“I think a reasonable target of 70 or 80% of data being collected by the patient in their own home, rather than in centres, is probably achievable and good for everybody,” ​he said.

Patient recruitment

According to Costello, patient identification and recruitment is also a challenge he hopes will be addressed with the help of trial technologies by 2020.

There is a discrepancy between patients who want to adopt virtual trial technology, and doctors who say there is a lack of demand, he told delegates.

“I would hope that over the next three years, we see the distance between these two extremes get smaller,” ​he added.

Costello said he was convinced there is enough patient demand to implement the technology.

“Patients want to give their data and consent, they want to wear devices, they want to make their phone accessible, and they want to participate in a fluid way in this research,” ​we were told.

“I believe the industry is moving in that direction…we could move faster.”

Bonam similarly said patient identification is “the next frontier” ​in the industry, telling delegates further attention is required to identify patients, rather than patients searching for trials themselves.

Clinical research organisation (CRO) Icon’s representative Willie Muehlhausen agreed: “We need to spend more time on patient recruitment and patient education.”

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