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Clinical Trials Gone Virtual

As hospitals dealt with spikes in COVID-19 cases and as stay-at-home orders were issued, many researchers working on clinical trials had to pause them, CNBC reports.

But some, it notes, have been able to turn to a virtual clinical trial model in which patients largely participate from home, especially as regulatory rules for virtual trials and reimbursement rules for telemedicine have been eased. Companies like Medable, Science37, and Unlearn.AI provide platforms in this space, it adds. 

A virtual approach may also address issues of travel and time commitments that have plagued traditional clinical trials, according to CNBC, as their setup has limited the ability of working parents and rural residents to participate. However, as virtual trials rely on smartphones and reliable internet access, they may exclude older and lower-income individuals.

Additionally, the approach isn't the right fit for all trials or trial phases, such as phase 1 studies or studies that need, for instance, MRI scans, CNBC says.

Still, CNBC says that a mixture of the approaches might be adopted in the future. "The goal shouldn't be to do everything in the home," Michelle Longmire, the co-founder and CEO of Medable, tells CNBC. "It should be whatever's going to generate the best science and give people the best clinical care.