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In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the clinical trials industry came to a screeching halt. With the health system focused on this new disease and many trial participants in lockdown, monthly trial starts fell by 50%, McKinsey reported.

But it didn’t have to be this way. Unlike most doctors working today, I spent years making house calls full time. My experience has shown me that most patients can set up safe, sound conditions at home and take medications and measurements accurately. With the right technology and advice, clinical trials can happen at home, too. It’s time to put the days of insisting that trial participants travel for every appointment behind us.


Hybrid and decentralized clinical trials using telemedicine, mobile tools, and traveling health care providers offer tremendous benefits. A pre-pandemic study in Europe found that decentralized trials had triple the enrollment of traditional ones and substantially higher retention (89%, compared with 69% in traditional trials). Since then, patients have become even less interested in on-site trials. In a 2021 survey, 44% of participants said traveling to a clinic was somewhat or very burdensome, up 15% from 2019.

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