The Medically Home Group promotes the virtual hospital idea as a way for patients to recover or receive medical treatment at home. However, the digital health concept has applications beyond patient treatment and can benefit an important aspect of the medical industry; research. This was the topic of a major two-day conference held in Philadelphia earlier this week.
What Is A Virtual Clinical Trial?
Medical research requires extensive formulation, testing, compilation, and analysis of results. It is only after rigorous experimentation and trials that a new procedure or medicine is deemed safe for use with the general public. Traditionally, clinical trials have been conducted by having one central location administering tests, calling for volunteers to report in, and requiring periodic visits to the facility to report in on results which are then compiled and analyzed.
A virtual clinical trial widens the net for trial testing. Depending on the needs of the trials, researchers may visit trial patients at their home, and employ the use of “wearable tech” to measure the results of testing. This changes the testing method dramatically. It may no longer require trial patients to visit the test site regularly. This often negates the “disengagement effect,” as some patients eventually drop out of such trials due to the requirement that they visit the facility frequently. It also allows more patients to qualify for testing including the elderly and the handicapped, that may have mobility issues reporting into a test site.
The Digital Health Conference
The recent Philadelphia event was two days of discussion across different concerns for conducting virtual clinical trials. One panel provides guidance on how traditional, “brick and mortar” physical trial sites can transition to a virtual approach. Another topic explains the different permutations of a virtual clinical trial, including “location-flexible” trials, hybrid trials that mix the two procedures, and the fully virtual clinical trial.
Other round table and panel discussions cover the legal, regulatory, and ethical considerations of making the move to this type of clinical trial. The equipment required is also covered in detail, as well as a “deep dive” into wearable tech, the medical devices at the forefront of making virtual clinical trials more feasible.
Digital health is about more than the actual treatment of patients. Methods like the virtual clinical trial provide researchers with a much larger pool of data and easier access to that data than ever before.