Advancements in Clinical Trials: Embracing Digital Transformation

Michelle Gallaher CEO of Opyl is in conversation with Dr. Megan Robertson of St Vincent’s Health Australia and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, on the changes and achievements within the clinical trials industry, particularly in Australia.

Welcome to our special edition of Opylpod, where we recognise and celebrate International Clinical Trials Day. In this episode, we delve into the changes and achievements within the clinical trials industry, particularly in Australia. Michelle Gallaher CEO of Opyl and founder of Opin.AI is in conversation with Dr. Megan Robertson of St Vincent’s Health Australia and St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. Dr. Robertson, a prominent figure in the field of clinical trials shares valuable insights into the industry’s evolution and the benefits it brings to participants and healthcare providers.

The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a game changer for the clinical trials industry. Dr. Robertson highlights how the crisis supercharged online opportunities in Australia. Electronic signatures, contracts, and document circulation became more streamlined, enabling rapid start-ups for trials. This advancement greatly benefited participants by facilitating remote trial monitoring and reducing the burden of frequent visits to central sites. Regional populations now have increased access and convenience in participating, promoting inclusivity and diversity in clinical trials.

Clinical trials not only offer improved healthcare outcomes but also serve as training grounds for medical professionals. Dr. Robertson emphasises that clinical trials enhance careers and add diversity to healthcare providers’ experiences. From nursing staff to allied health professionals and medical staff, participation in clinical trials enriches their work, stimulates intellectual growth, and promotes evidence-based care. The integration of research into mainstream clinical practice has transformed the way doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals approach patient care.

Traditionally, clinical trials were seen as a last resort after standard therapy failed. However, Dr. Robertson notes a significant shift in clinical practice, where trials now run alongside or are considered part of standard therapy. Participants are approached early in their healthcare journey and are given the opportunity to consider trial options. This change allows patients to make informed decisions about their care, balancing potential benefits against added burdens. Driven by an altruistic desire to contribute to future advancements, many patients willingly participate in trials.

Digital health technologies have revolutionised participant engagement in clinical trials. Sites have adopted med tech and wearable devices, reducing the need for frequent visits and enabling remote monitoring. Dr. Robertson emphasises the comfort healthcare professionals now have with digital information and participants’ increasing familiarity with smartphones and other technologies. Wearable devices offer real-time biofeedback, empowering patients to take control of their health. This transformation in healthcare technology has positively impacted patients’ perception of their own health and involvement in their healthcare journey.

Inclusivity and Equity:

Digital technologies have the potential to enhance participation opportunities for diverse populations. Dr. Robertson highlights the limitless possibilities for language support and improved access for neurodiverse individuals. Australia’s ethnic diversity, coupled with the advancements in digital technologies, makes it an ideal environment for clinical trials that represent and cater to a wide range of participants. Further exploration of these opportunities will lead to greater inclusivity and equity in the clinical trials landscape.

The clinical trials industry has witnessed remarkable advancements, propelled by digital transformation and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote monitoring, rapid start-ups, and the integration of digital health technologies have improved accessibility, convenience, and inclusivity in clinical trials. Furthermore, the industry’s embrace of these changes has enriched healthcare careers, expanded training opportunities, and revolutionised patient care. As we continue to explore the potential of digital technologies, we look forward to a future where clinical trials play an even more significant role in advancing healthcare worldwide.