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Clinical trials adapt to challenges of COVID-19 and discover opportunities for the future

The Monash Health Clinical Trials Unit has discovered more patient-centred and efficient ways to manage cancer trials as an unexpected outcome of COVID-19.

Monash Health Translation Precinct adapted quickly to COVID-19 restrictions to ensure patients with cancer were able to participate in clinical trials, despite significant challenges.

‘Knowing that people undergoing cancer treatment are already vulnerable to infections, we prioritised reducing travel as much as possible,’ said Ms Karen Gillett, Clinical Trials Manager at Monash Health.

Consultations quickly transitioned to telehealth to minimise face-to-face contact, a delivery model that patients and oncology researchers have readily adapted to, and may also work to fast-track opportunities for tele-trials. Additionally, patients were referred for tests at local centres where possible, including for imaging and blood tests.

Another innovation that will most likely continue is remote monitoring of people on clinical trials. Secure new online systems and processes have been implemented between trial coordinators and pharmaceutical sponsors to meet the ethical requirements of validating and monitoring clinical research. This can reduce the cost and administrative processes involved with running clinical trials. 

Clinical trials adapt to challenges of COVID-19 and discover opportunities for the future