Clinical Trials Could Be Decentralized, Here’s Why

Clinical Trials Could Be Decentralized, Here’s Why

6 Reasons why decentralized clinical trials are the future

Clinical trials are research studies performed on people aimed at setting up whether surgical, medicinal, or behavioral intervention is needed. Clinical trials truly help and are consistently required. Now we look toward decentralizing clinical trials. Patients being able to track and record their experience on their smartphones would save time and money, and the data will be stored digitally, so doctors and researchers will be able to access it at any time. Briefly, one of the benefits of decentralizing clinical trials will be ease of patient reporting which can only positively affect patient retention. We’ve taken some time to look at the details, so here is more on decentralized clinical trials and how they will impact the future.

You get better data

Arguably one of the most significant aspects of a clinical trial is its data. As mentioned previously, one benefit of decentralized clinical trials is the ease of patient reporting. Researchers can collect a large amount of data because patients use their smartphones to log updates daily. This is huge! One asthma and allergy study featuring 2000 people observed by a decentralized clinical trial is indeed the future. Here are some of the outcomes from that study. Each patient filled out their allergy symptoms every day for one year – there was only one patient who eventually dropped out of the study. Gathering this information was made possible because patients were logging their experiences on their smartphones instead of heading to a medical professional or researcher. We can also look at the role decentralized clinical trials play in cancer studies for a deeper understanding of how they can work.

While this is precisely what researchers are after, a decentralized system does not mean the absence of healthcare professionals; in fact, it only cuts the effort of moving around. Since healthcare is a regulated industry, the reluctance to move over to decentralized trials is largely based on the concern that healthcare professionals will no longer be needed. This is simply not true.  

A deeper look at the benefits

A decentralized system means that patients can carry on with their day-to-day lives without major disruptions; this is ultimately the end goal, as well as enhancing a study by including the relevant technology to assist patients and communities with clinical trials. According to research, in the US alone, 70% of clinical trial patients live more than two hours from their research site. Furthermore, 50% of all clinical trial patients find it difficult to complete the entire study due to ill health. Then the biggest takeaway is that 85% of trials fail even before they start due to low participation. These figures give a good sign as to why decentralizing clinical trials would work.  

Source: Pexels

Speeding up patient recruitment

It is essential to consider where your patients live. For traditional studies, the further away the patients are, the more likely they are going to drop out before the trial is completed or more than likely not take part at all. The decentralized model makes it easier to find participants for a study taking into consideration their location.  

An increase in study diversity

Having a diverse group of patients offers better data. Selecting patients from a larger pool has always proved to be more valuable, especially because clinical trials often only have participants who are living in nearby areas. Think about it this way, if there is a rare disease study, the more diverse the group, the more insights the result will offer.  

Patient engagement

Researchers and healthcare workers are after correct and honest results. It has been proven that patients who are more engaged complete all their required tasks in electronic diaries and more accurately too. Electronic records are time-stamped, so it makes the data much easier to verify.

Real-time monitoring

Not to say all traditional clinical trials have some form of bias, but real-time monitoring allows for more diverse data since the patient pool is more varied, and it helps when it is done remotely, in real-time.  

Accurate data

Data storage is a lot to consider. Paper can disappear and be displaced, but the recording of said data in real-time on an electronic device does have its rewards. Firstly, data is collected and stored in real-time; secondly, you can access this data when needed; lastly, data can be recorded on various devices like smartphones, smartwatches, and more.   

Data analysis

Since there are technologies available that allow for standardized data collection and insights, a decentralized system can perfect the data analysis process.  


A lot goes into making the shift to a decentralized clinical trial. Here are some considerations to look out for:

  • Look at each stage of a trial and set up what can be done remotely and digitally and what cannot.
  • Complete a cost analysis to understand how much it would cost to implement this modern technology.
  • Ask yourself if this is going to improve patient retention and reduce the trial’s overall costs.
  • Ask yourself if a decentralized study will speed up timelines by cutting in-person check-ins.

Asheley Rice

I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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