While he’s a big fan of decentralized clinical trials (DCTs), THREAD CEO John Reites expects to see some “contraction” in their usage as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. “Many people are thrilled to go back to in-person visits” for studies, he notes.
That said, Reites isn’t advocating the clinical trial industry return to business as usual when COVID-19 is more of a bad memory than a daily obstacle. “Trial participants see the benefit of a hybrid approach” to clinical trials, Reites believes. However, any successful blend of in-person and virtual must focus on “quality, consistency, and convenience,” he stresses. “We’re excited to see hybrid models becoming more flexible” to patient needs, he adds.
Calling it a “pivotal moment” in the evolution of DCTs and hybrids, Reites predicts we are a few years away from a significant increase in their ongoing usage. “It will take time” for industry to adapt, he says, because “it’s a different way of thinking.”
Reites has already observed tremendous growth in a new variant of DCTs, namely in terms of larger and multisite studies. In addition, DCTs are being used for more than just data collection, he says, noting that they are “having a greater impact on recruitment, too.” DCTs and hybrid tools will also promote patient population diversity, he adds.
Noting the clinical trial industry is good at “evolutionary, not revolutionary steps,” Reites believes the measured approach to more DCTs and hybrid trials makes complete sense. However, he also believes there will always be an important role for so-called brick and mortar locations.
“Technology will not replace people,” Reites said. Instead, he views it as a “support, or a support tool” that might serve to increase overall trial volume and the accompanying demand for professionals.
Author: Michael Causey