Patients and Families

What is a teletrial and how does it work?

Teletrials are clinical trials designed to offer specialist medical services in separate locations, linked by the same goal. These are called Primary sites and Satellite sites. They are a partnership of medical teams all working on the same project and regularly sharing information with one another.

Primary sites are where the main doctor leading the trial is based. These can be in the city or in the country.

Satellite sites are where doctors who work in partnership on the trial are based. Again, these can be in the city or the country.

Some doctor’s appointments, scans and blood tests will still need to be done at the primary site where the main doctor running the trial is based. This is because they may need to have access to special equipment or services that are not available at a satellite site. Examples include CT or MRI scans, surgical procedures or blood tests for the study.

Before you join a clinical trial and throughout the clinical trial, the clinical trials team will ask for your permission. The process of giving your permission is called 'informed consent'. Providing 'informed consent' means that you understand the purpose, the risks and possible outcomes of the study and are taking part on your own free will.

For a teletrial, you may have the appointment to discuss consent via video call or telephone. The information about the trial will be provided to you beforehand by the study team. If you decide to go ahead with the trial and sign the informed consent papers, you will need to email or post them back to the primary site.

All clinical trials have different procedures during the course of treatment. These can be the way trial drugs are given (like tablets or chemotherapy), scans or blood tests. Talk through with your medical team to find out what needs to be done at the primary (main) site and what can be done at a satellite (partner) site.

You will have regular appointments with the main doctor running the study either in person or by telehealth. These can include your local doctor or nurse working on the study.

For studies that use tablets or injections, these can be sent to your home or a local pharmacy or doctor to be picked up.

For studies that require regular scans or blood tests, the first ones might be done at the primary (main) site and then at a medical service centre closer to where you live.

Get the latest in cancer news, events and more, direct to your inbox
Join a network of Victorian cancer researchers, clinicians and consumers to keep your finger on the pulse.