Kim Kundert, VP, Clinical Operations"Technological advancements in the field of pharmaceutical processes are mostly aimed at improving the overall productivity. Our ultimate objective is along the same lines—to make clinical trials more efficient and expedite the introduction of effective medications in the market,” remarks Mark S. Hanley, CEO of Virtrial. During his tenure as the board member of a telehealth solutions provider, Hanley realized that their platform could be used for clinical trials with some technical modifications. Backed by a vast experience in clinical trials and research sites, he started working on adding capabilities to the telehealth platform, which eventually led him to found Virtrial in 2018. Virtrial’s newly-designed platform offers telehealth visits with the help of an app that supports audio and video calls in addition to text messages and emails, thus enabling pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations (CRO) to create patient-centric trials.
“Clients can use the text message feature to send reminders to patients about both the medications and upcoming visits,” adds Kim Kundert, VP of clinical operations at Virtrial. The platform also allows CROs to send email links comprising the educational material about the disease under study, and in turn, helps patients get a better understanding of their medical condition. Furthermore, the Virtrial app provides pharmaceutical companies and CROs with analytical reports that enable them to make preemptive decisions with regard to patient activity. As a result, CROs and pharmaceutical companies are not merely communicating with clinical research coordinators (CRC) and principal investigators (PI), but are also receiving real-time data on patient compliance and protocol adherence.
A worldwide reach enhances the quality and effectiveness of the virtual visits that Virtrial provides through video calls capable of accommodating up to four people at a time.
Mark S. Hanley, CEOIf the patient brings up an adverse event or concern during the video call with the CRC then the PI or physician can be asked to join in at the touch of an on-screen button. If need be, a caregiver from a remote location or even a specialist can be brought in, thus improving the quality of service rendered to the patient. In addition, Virtrial’s alliance with an interpretation service provider equips the platform to support 200 languages, thus ensuring that patients can communicate in their primary language. The convenience and engagement levels of Virtrial’s platform help CRCs and PI to improve patient retention and increase the number of enrolments by drawing patients from distant locations.
“However, our aim is to replace only 25-50 percent of clinic visits with virtual visits, as it is still crucial for patients to meet physicians, especially for the first time when they discuss the trial details and get dispensed study medication,” points Hanley. During the primary clinic visit, patients also undergo eligibility checks and physical examinations and get their medical records reviewed. Post these processes, the CRCs help patients download the Virtrial app that is compatible with all kinds of phones, iPad, or computer.
Virtrial is currently working on adding an API to its app in order to support wearable devices like Apple watches, Fitbit bands, and ActiGraph solutions. The ability of these devices to track patients’ sleep patterns, heart rates, and other activities can simplify the task of data collection for CROs. In weeks to come, Virtrial has meetings with prospective pharmaceutical clients and a conference in Florida. “As we build up our clientele, we plan to add staff to help train research sites, maintain the app, and manage contracts,” concludes Kim.