COVID-19’s negative impact on clinical trials–can remote patient monitoring and telehealth companies help?

We’ve previously noted the interest of large drug clinical trials companies in remote patient monitoring–example the acquisition of the much-passed-along Care Innovations by PRA Health Sciences [TTA 8 Apr]. Logically, these clinical trials have been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting recruitment, data sharing, preservation of data, and how trials can be conducted.

TMF Futures: Keeping Data Alive has just been published by Arkivum, a University of Southampton (UK) spin-out which specializes in the digital preservation of valuable data for the life sciences industry and global scientific institutions through the Arkivum Trust. This initial survey was conducted in July 2020 by Arkivum, Phlexglobal, the Ethical Medicines Industry Group (EMIG), and Survey Goo. The 206 senior representatives surveyed all have responsibility for/knowledge of clinical trials, with senior and director-level positions in general and senior management; regulatory; quality assurance; clinical; operations.

TMF refers to the trial master file that is required by FDA and EMA. Paper TMFs have largely converted to electronic form (eTMF). Life science organizations have also largely transferred data to eClinical applications. Despite that, the survey found that 45% of clinical research organizations (CROs) struggle to manage, locate and report data, while 50% are unable to convert documents from multiple software applications in order to make them usable. 

Topline findings of the survey:

  • 74% of respondents say that COVID-19 will continue to compromise their ability to deliver on clinical trial objectives for the next six to 12 months;
  • 70% say that COVID-19 has triggered a change in the way clinical trials will be conducted;
  • Interoperability between eClinical applications used in trials remains a major challenge – for example, 39% of all respondents and 50% of contract research organizations are unable to convert documents from multiple eClinical applications;
  • Current archiving of clinical trial data is not always fit for purpose – for example, 65% of compliance, legal, and regulatory professionals describe their ability to access data as ‘extremely inadequate’ or ‘very inadequate’.

Of interest to our Readers is page 11 of the survey, which found that 56% of respondents believe that there will be increased remote patient monitoring in post-COVID clinical trials, and that 22% believe that new technology will be developed to shorten clinical trial duration and reduce cost. In addition, recruitment has to come from more diverse areas and to mitigate the difficulty of finding people to be in clinical trials.

For telehealth developers, providers, and software developers who have the systems, data, and access to patients/users, clinical trials and CROs may be a strong future market. We may also have profitable insights into interoperability and data sharing.

To obtain a free copy of the survey, fill out the short form here. Arkivum press release. Hat tip to Penny Lukats of SENSO Communications (UK).

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