The Future of Decentralized Clinical Trials Demands New CRA Skillsets

Alethea Wieland Photo

Alethea Wieland, Founder and President, Clinical Research Strategies

When it comes to decentralized clinical trials (DCTs), the future is now, says Alethea Wieland, founder and president of Clinical Research Strategies. “We could have been doing this 10 years ago from a technology standpoint, but COVID-19 has amplified the need for” adoption of DCTs, she notes.

Further, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signaled for years that it wants to promote usage of DCTs. “It’s clear trends are heading in that direction,” Wieland says. “That’s where the FDA wants [clinical trial practitioners] to move.”

The challenge for today and tomorrow’s clinical research associates (CRAs) is to be thinking ahead about their career prospects in an evolving enterprise. “Do you understand how this will change your career in the next five years?” Wieland asks. “CRA jobs are changing, and [CRAs] need to take charge of their own careers by taking more accredited courses from the Association of Clinical Research Professionals” and learning new skills to adapt to the rise of DCTs, she says.


The Future of DCTS: Are You Prepared?

This November 3 webinar—free for ACRP Members—is tailored for professionals in the research field who wonder how to embrace the changes in DCT research. Wieland will lead a discussion of what DCT really means, how there is no going back, and more importantly, how it is up to the research professional to adapt to change.

View Program Details >


Meanwhile, although they’ll never disappear from the scene entirely, Wieland believes there will be “fewer and fewer brick and mortar, small” contract research organizations (CROs) dotting the clinical research landscape in the coming years. “We’ve proven we can work remotely, and there’s less and less reason for people to go into an office these days,” she says.

She adds that she welcomes the trend where patients won’t be “forced” to come to a trial site unnecessarily. “It remains to be seen how CROs will handle this transition, but DCTs and [the use of] real-world evidence [in trials] are here to stay,” and savvy clinical trial practitioners will plan their professional future accordingly, Wieland says.

Author: Michael Causey