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30 Aug 2020

Teletrials: implementation of a new paradigm for clinical trials

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
  • Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

"Telehealth can be used to deliver clinical trials, improve access to novel therapies and develop clinical networks."

A new paper, Teletrials: implementation of a new paradigm for clinical trials has been published in The Medical Journal of Australia (The MJA).

The paper's authors are members of the VCCC Teletrials Program Steering Committee, Associate Professor Ian Collins, South West Oncology; Associate Professor Kate Burbury, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Dr Craig Underhill, Albury Wodonga Health. It sets out why teletrials are such an important element of efforts to reduce the mortality gap between patients with cancer in regional and rural areas and those in metropolitan areas, and how the VCCC's Teletrials Program has overcome some of the long standing barriers to clinical trial participation. 

Wide-ranging benefits of teletrials

Some of the potential benefits of teletrials highlighted in the paper include:

• Recruitment: wider reach may mean faster recruiting leading to more rapid translation to practice
• Improved retention: easier trial access easier may improve participant retention 
• Increased diversity of participants
• Professional development opportunities for clinical staff
• Possible trial cost-savings

According to the paper, "Teletrials do more than just meet trial metrics. They develop synchronous partnering between regional and metropolitan centres, allowing regional equity of access to cutting edge diagnostics and therapeutics while maintaining patients’ care delivery closer to home, thereby avoiding disruption to family, work and social interactions."

Patients and carers agree important equity issue for regional patients with cancer

A further paper, also published in August, Exploring Australian regional cancer patients' experience of clinical trial participation via telemedicine technology, published in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telehealth reviewed teletrials from the patient perspective. 

The paper shows regional cancer patients and carers are positively disposed to teletrials as they offer convenient, acceptable access to a clinical trial. While not all patients may want to engage in a teletrial, patients and carers agree that it offers equity of opportunity for trial participation, irrespective of where people live.

More information:

The MJA media release

Teletrials: implementation of a new paradigm for clinical trials, The Medical Journal of Australia, 31 August 2020

Exploring Australian regional cancer patients' experience of clinical trial participation via telemedicine technology, Journal of Telemedicine and Telehealth, 18 August 2020

The MJA podcast with Associate Professor Ian Collins 

VCCC Teletrials program and resources

For information on the VCCC Teletrials Program, contact Program Manager, Hannah Cross e: hannah.cross@unimelb.edu.au