Technology is going to make clinical trial jobs more productive and “interesting” in the years to come, says Marina Acosta-Enslen, associate director of clinical management at Rho, and a 20-year veteran in the clinical trial industry with work on the site and sponsor sides and an emphasis on clinical operations.
Far from being something to fear, Acosta-Enslen says the prospect of hybrid and decentralized clinical trials using virtual tech and study designs using other technologies should be making clinical trial practitioners excited about the future. “Technology will make trials more patient-centric and allow clinical trial professionals to focus on what matters” in their day-to-day jobs, she notes. Technology will remove some of the administrative burden, even as it improves overall data quality, she adds.
Acosta-Enslen also says the successful clinical trial practitioner of tomorrow will be increasingly tech-savvy and will have the opportunity to display more critical thinking in their job. “The risk-based approach in trials demands they understand the protocols and what’s really important in the trial,” she says.
COVID-19’s impact, which has already been huge, will only grow as the pandemic lingers, Acosta-Enslen notes. “COVID-19 has certainly accelerated the direction we were already going in, in terms of [adopting] decentralized trials,” she explains. Further, while the industry may “revert” back a little after the pandemic is over, she is convinced the most significant repercussions of the pandemic will “stick.”
COVID-19 has done at least one indirect favor to the clinical trial industry, because it has “demonstrated the criticality of what clinical trial practitioners are doing” to the general public, Acosta-Enslen says. However, those who are tossing around the idea of “siteless trials” might want to calm down, she suggests.
Virtual or hybrid trials aren’t going to eliminate the need for sites, Acosta-Enslen stresses. “Sites will remain vital,” she says. “Especially those that are evolving and adapting their technologies” to offer new ways of conducting trials remotely.
In her view, technology is ushering in a new era of more patient-focused trials with practitioners having more direct contact with patients, be it in person or virtually.
Author: Michael Causey