As scientists and researchers continue to work around the clock to find treatment for the coronavirus, current clinical trials are trying to figure out how to proceed amidst the pandemic. For the time being, some clinical trials have been put on hold with many not wanting to put their health in jeopardy going into a doctor’s office. Clinical trials are needed for new treatments to reach the public. When a clinical trial stops, this causes a delay in treatment reaching the market. So how can clinical trials continue during COVID-19?
Well one thing is for certain, clinical trials will need to find a new approach on how to reach and engage with patients. This approach includes opening more call centers and leaning towards a more virtual approach. With call centers, patients will be able to speak to a health care professional in real time. Before a clinical trial begins, call centers can screen patients to see if they are qualified for a study before sending them to a doctor site as a “pre-qualified” patient. Patients will also be able to contact call centers with any questions they may have. This not only allows for patients to speak to someone in real time but also helps alleviate some of the call traffic a doctor’s office would receive during a clinical trial.
Things are Going Virtual
Technology would also play a big role in the new approach to clinical trials, with virtual being the go-to approach. Clinical trial prioritization would need to be revised based on patient needs that were not yet met, the current progress of the study, how much supplies is available and needed as well as business objectives. Protocols would also have to be looked at to make sure remote-patient monitoring can coincide with the overall objective of the study.
The scheduling of virtual visits allows for patients to speak face to face with a physician in the comfort of their own home. Whether if it is a facetime, zoom, skype, team video chat or a phone call, patients would still be able to still engage in the trial while also receiving any information they needed on the next steps to complete the trial.
A major part of the next steps would include the patient taking a study drug or using a medical device the clinical trial is testing. Health care officials would need to find a way to deliver the study drug or device to the patients participating in the trial that would not require person to person contact. This is something being further investigated as companies try to find a way to keep patients in the study that were already participating before COVID-19. Healthcare officials would of course need to make sure good clinical practice (GCP) compliance and trial integrity is being used when trying to get trials back on track.
Comfort is the the Priority
Of course, the most important part of a clinical trial is making sure the patient feels comfortable participating in the study. Participating in a clinical trial is a very brave step for a person to take and we should all be very appreciative of those who do participate within a study. Without patients participating in studies we would not have the current drugs or devices currently on market. It is extremely important for clinical trials to continue even with the pandemic surrounding us to make sure the development in future medical treatment does not stop.