Technology Key to Nimble Trial Pivots During COVID-19

D’Anna Siegle, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Florence Healthcare

Since COVID-19 hit the world hard last year, efficiency-driven “technology in clinical trials has gone from [being] a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’” feature for study stakeholders, says D’Anna Siegle, senior product marketing manager with Florence Healthcare.

While Siegle and others are still sifting through the data and reports to see how the clinical trial industry adjusted as the pandemic closed or imperiled trials, it’s clear to her that those who were already embracing technology and remote working were in a much better position to pivot to the new normal in 2020.

“The ones who really struggled were those who weren’t using any technology or remote working,” Siegle says.

Siegle will share insights gleaned from several experts on the clinical trial front lines during an upcoming ACRP webinar on March 10, including:

  • Stacie Rebar, Director of Clinical Operations, MultiCare Health System
  • Catherine Gregor, Director of Clinical Research Administration at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
  • Casey Braddy, Assistant Director of Research Operations at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
  • Sara Guyler, Research Regulatory Services Manager at AdventHealth

Siegle will also provide a deep dive into Florence Healthcare’s “2021 State of the Industry” survey featuring input from more than 200 sites and sponsors. The 2020 survey found that only 18% of respondents claimed remote monitoring accounted for 50% or more of their monitoring visits. More than half, or 58%, predicted remote monitoring would account for 50% or more of monitoring visits by 2022. Moreover, less than 6% of respondents considered remote site access their top priority in 2020.

Then COVID-19 came along and changed almost everything, Siegle notes. For example, in the most recent survey, 76% of sponsors reported conducting most or all monitoring remotely, and 83% of sponsors and 80% of sites anticipate most monitoring will be remote by 2023.

Data suggest that the rapid growth of remote site access is mainly a result of efforts to keep clinical operations running during COVID-19. However, this trend will continue as sites and sponsors begin to realize the value of this investment.

“Technology shouldn’t be used as a temporary band-aid for a short-term fix” during the chaos of 2020, adds Blake Adams, vice president of marketing for Florence Healthcare. “Technology should be part of your long-term solution” to improve trial safety and efficacy, he says.

Adams and Siegle agree that sites, fresh from largely positive experiences adding technology to their clinical trial operations in 2020, now feel empowered and will push sponsors and others to embrace it, too.

“I think sponsors and contract research organizations are beginning to see they risk missing out if they can’t offer some form of remote clinical trials,” Adams notes.

Author: Michael Causey