How DCTs impact dermatology drug research
Pharmaceutical sponsors looking to conduct dermatology trials face a wide variety of challenges to ensure that all aspects of a trial are executable and patient-accessible from finding the right participants, collecting high-quality data, administering treatments, monitoring patients, maintaining patient retention and engagement, and more. Many of these components can require significant time, resources, and costs to complete. This can present a real challenge for small to mid-size pharmaceutical sponsors attempting to run a successful and efficient trial.
Decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) allow for the incorporation of one or multiple technologies and/or tech-driven services for efficient study execution while ensuring optimal patient access, engagement, and retention, saving sponsors money, time, and resources.
Some of the major benefits of incorporating DCT components into a dermatology drug trial are:
Most dermatology studies require a close examination of patients’ skin in order to collect proper data and effectively monitor patients’ progress. Traditionally, patients in dermatology studies would be required to travel to a physical site every time a skin evaluation was needed (in some studies, this could be as often as every 1 to 3 weeks). By incorporating highly advanced telemedicine capabilities into these trials, care providers are able to see patients virtually and utilize state-of-the-art technology to capture snapshots of patients’ skin where needed, with the ability to zoom in and out and save these images to patient records.
These telemedicine capabilities allow participating patients to complete all their necessary derm evaluations from the comfort of their own homes without compromising the quality of data and visuals collected for the trial. Care providers are able to evaluate patients virtually assessing their progress and identifying and addressing any concerns.
Remote sample collection & shipments
Not all pharmaceutical trials look alike, particularly in the dermatology industry, making a variety of capabilities crucial among DCT vendors. When it comes to sample collections (blood draws, culture swabs, etc.), although some can be done on-site, DCTs have the unique ability to deploy mobile phlebotomists and/or nurses to travel to patients' homes and perform the necessary collections in a manner that is easiest and most convenient to patients. DCT vendors are then able to ship the collected samples to the necessary labs for proper analysis allowing sponsors to monitor the process from patients scheduling phlebotomy visits, to sample collection, to shipment status and arrival. These capabilities not only give patients convenient ways to participate but also allow sponsors to monitor study progress in real-time.
When patients are able to choose how they want to participate in a trial, retention, and engagement improve. By offering patients the ability to choose whether they want to complete their skin assessments in-office or virtually through telemedicine, sponsors are able to make participating in their trial easier for patients. The same is true when sample collection is needed from patients, prompting them to schedule an at-home visit to perform a sample collection rather than expecting patients to travel to a physical site offers additional convenience.
Patient retention and engagement rates often suffer in trials with high patient burden. The more that is required from patients (i.e. their time, resources, travel, discomfort, sample collections, scheduling, etc.), the higher the burden is on them to continue to the end of the trial. In order for patients to successfully complete a study, they need to be able to participate with as little burden placed on them as possible. Giving patients optionality throughout a trial alleviates the significant burden that comes with required on-site visits, boosting engagement and retention rates of a study.
By incorporating one or all of these DCT components, small to mid-size pharmaceutical sponsors can achieve more efficient dermatology studies while optimizing patient centricity and saving cost, time, and resources.