Over 100 members attended Thursday evening’s APPA Webinar where “Tele-trials – Increasing equity for Australian patients accessing clinical trials” was discussed. Key points were:

The majority of clinical trials are conducted in metropolitan centers, yet 1/3 of patients in Australia live in regional, rural and remote locations. The tele-trial model addresses inequity for patients, sponsors and investigators.

Tele-trials can help enhance recruitment, reduce inequality (thus enabling regional, rural and remote patients to participate); a National Teletrial Framework can provide a consistent approach across jurisdictions - all to position Australia as a destination of choice for conducting clinical trials.

Under the Australasian Tele-trial model the primary site comprises specialists, clinical trial coordinators, specialist pharmacy, nursing and allied health clinicians; and satellite sites comprise patients and families, medical officers, nursing, pharmacy and allied health clinicians, with/without trial coordinators. Patients are consented, recruited and managed at satellite sites in partnership between clinicians from satellite and primary
sites.

The Medical Research Future Fund Clinical Trials Enabling Infrastructure Grant was discussed. MRFF enabling grants have included $75.2 million to the Department of Health, Queensland for the Australian Teletrial Program.

The aim is to establish an interconnected and networked clinical trial system through the Australasian Teletrial model. Progress so far has included the establishment of Tele-trials SOPs, setting up project teams and Steering Committees, national templates and pilot studies (involving COSA, MTPConnect, Queensland Health, ClinicaltrialsNSW, Clinical Trials Project Reference Group, Regional Victorian Trials Alliance Linkages)

The pilots have shown that it’s possible to create interconnected clinical trial networks and remote medical therapy systems across the state and country using tele-health.

Sustainability for the future requires Government endorsement at all levels, enabling infrastructure and policies and uniform regulatory reforms for the ease of implementation within intra and interstate jurisdictions.

Tele-trials will become the new norm with the establishment of national tele-trial frameworks; and Medicines Australia fully supports the tele-trials initiatives with the objective of positioning Australia as an R&D destination of choice, and thus enhancing Australia’s global competitiveness.