1. What is a teletrial?

 teletrials module 1 tile v2The Australian Teletrial Program (2022) provides the following definition:

A teletrial is a group of clinical trial sites that work together to conduct a clinical trial under the supervision of a Primary Site.

A teletrial uses telehealth technology to communicate between the Primary Site and Satellite Site/s and enables delivery of aspects of a clinical trial closer to home for patients, particularly in regional, rural and remote locations. A Principal Investigator supervises Associate Investigator/s to conduct a clinical trial at a Satellite Site which is geographically remote from the Principal Investigator’s Primary Site.

The Principal Investigator remains responsible for the trial. A detailed Supervision Plan is required, in addition to a Delegation Log required by ICH GCP for all Satellite Sites regardless of experience. Trial participants may have trial visits at both the Primary and Satellite Sites, as determined by the Protocol and Supervision Plan.

Australian Teletrial Program

trial cluster final

Teletrials are considered a 'sub-branch' or type of Decentralized Clinical Trial (DCT). The term DCT is commonly used by sponsors.

The DCT model does not typically specify the difference between a Primary and Satellite Site but conceives of a spectrum of activities that may be interpreted according to sponsors' and clinicians' needs. Essentially very similar to Teletrials but there are not enough published examples yet to determine fixed models.

McKinsey & Company Decentralized Trials, Article 2021

European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety Recommendation paper on decentralised elements in clinical trials

The Danish Medicines Agency’s guidance on the implementation of decentralised elements in clinical trials with medicinal products

Position Paper on decentralised clinical trials (DCTs) with medicinal products in Switzerland

A fully virtual clinical trial is one that is completely technology-based and can include those run by registry searches and data mining. That means there are no traditional sites, no physical locations used, and no face-to-face interactions. Actual participants may be involved but their interaction is all via web sites, phones, apps, watches, and e-diaries.

Decentralized, virtual, or hybrid clinical trial – what’s the difference? Article, 2021

Benefits of the Teletrial model

For Patients:
  • Local support
    • Being able to participate in a clinical trial with family, community and local healthcare support
  • Equitable access
    • Equity of access for all Australians to clinical trials and improved access to new therapies
  • Reduced time and costs
    • Reduction in travel for patients and accommodation costs
  • Higher satisfaction

For Clinical Teams:

  • Equitable access
    • Patients have equitable access to cutting-edge potential new treatments
  • Recruitment and retention
    • Potential for improvement in patient recruitment and retention
  • Range of trials
    • Access to a wider range of clinical trials by participating as a satellite site
  • Support and guidance
    • Assistance with clinical trial supervision plans between sites, regulatory applications and research ethics and governance submissions, contract negotiations and other sponsor requirements
  • Collaboration and clusters
    • Increased collaboration and communication between metropolitan and rural, regional and remote hospitals as well as primary health networks through the implementation of a clinical trial cluster
  • Capacity and skills
    • Increased clinical trials capacity in Australia – clinicians and healthcare workers in rural, regional and remote healthcare settings will develop new skills and enhance existing skills in conducting clinical trials
    • Increased potential to recruit in rare and less common cancer studies through greater access for patients with rare cancers via the availability of more trial sites

Adapted from: Australian Teletrial Program (2022) www.australianteletrialprogram.com.au

Background to Teletrial model in Australia

The Australasian Teletrial Model released in September 2016 was developed by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) Regional and Rural Group in consultation with clinical trial sponsors, clinicians, health administrators and regulatory bodies.

COSA Teletrial Model September 2016

The term teletrial was codified in the National Principles for Teletrials in Australia in 2021.

National Principles for Teletrials in Australia

Links to further information

Click on the headings below to access further resources:

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