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the microsampling blog

how virtual clinical trials help with volunteer recruitment & retention

virtual clinical trialsVirtual clinical trials (remote trials) are a relatively new concept that has great promise, but has yet to be fully realized in clinical research studies.

The approach utilizes technologies like electronic monitoring devices, remote specimen collection, digital apps, and online social engagement platforms to conduct research in humans. A virtual approach to trials removes a number of barriers to study participation. Virtual trials can benefit study subjects and the pharmacology sector by improving safety, convenience and efficiency in the way clinical researchers carry out their studies, and the ease with which people can participate.

Virtual trials can significantly reduce the time it takes to complete clinical drug development. The traditional approach to research and development typically takes as many as 15 years at a cost of about $2.6 billion. Unfortunately, about 85% of these therapies fail in the early stages of development. Lowering study costs is one area where virtual clinical trials can help improve clinical research and development.

What Problems Do Virtual Clinical Trials Solve?

In 2020, many research institutions halted clinical research projects and trials due to the coronavirus pandemic. A few clinical research projects transitioned to online video conferencing platforms and other telehealth communications, which provided virtual solutions that could overcome lockdowns and other barriers. The telehealth approach and other remote tools aided remote participant monitoring. This allowed study volunteers to continue participating in trials from the safety of their homes. For many research organizations, conducting decentralized trials through the use of telemedicine tools is a great way to deliver a better experience for study participants.

Geographical limitations don’t have to hinder the recruitment and retention of volunteers for clinical trials. Imagine being able to participate in a clinical study without having to leave your home. The research coordinators can come to you virtually using digital recruitment and telehealth communication strategies. Using the virtual trial model, study volunteers don’t have to lose hours from work and school, or make frequent trips to the trial site or lab for follow-ups and specimen collection. All of that can be managed remotely.

Specimen Collection for Virtual Trials

In virtual clinical trials, volunteers can use remote specimen collection tools like Mitra® devices from Neoteryx. Several research organizations have documented their use of remote sample collection devices to launch their virtual clinical trials. The devices use simple methods and illustrated instructions to enable the end-user to easily collect a small sample they can for research analysis. Study volunteers collect the samples at home and ship them to the designated lab for testing.

Contract research organizations can customize their sample collection supplies using their own kits in combination with the Mitra devices. They can also use the Mitra® Collection Kit, which is a complete kit that includes all the tools and instructions study volunteers need to collect their own sample with scientific precision.

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