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What Are Virtual Clinical Trials And How Do They Work?

What Exactly Do You Mean By Virtual Clinical Trials?

Before we delve into the details of this topic, you need to know what virtual clinical trials are. They are sometimes also known as decentralized clinical trials or remote clinical trials, and as you can probably guess from the name itself, here, the clinical trial process is digitally empowered. This is an advanced form of a clinical trial that has come up in recent times, and when it comes to clinical research, this method is still underutilized.

How Do Virtual Clinical Trials Work?

Now that you know what these trials mean, let's have a look at what they do. You all must have heard that the health care system is moving towards patient centricity. But why? Patient centricity improves patient retention and virtual clinical trials are all about patient centricity. They have made some significant alterations to the research methodologies from a digital perspective that would create an ecosystem specifically meant for the patients. Not only this, but there would also be endless benefits associated with technology, electronic devices, advanced applications, machine learning, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and much more.

Doctors looking at an X-ray result
Doctors looking at an X-ray result

Virtual clinical trials utilize the advancements in the digital tech world, including wearable medical devices, virtual patient monitoring, remote SDV, and whatnot. On top of everything, these trials are also very cost-effective and manageable.

Benefits Of Virtual Clinical Trials

You might be wondering why is there a need to go to the length of implementing these virtual clinical trials when we had our good old conventional trials. Well, that is because these new-age trials have their own sets of benefits which we are going to discuss here.

  • Patients are much more informed – In this case, patients are highly informed about their current condition through several consent portals and other study websites that are all digitally available.
  • Patients are educated through this procedure so that they remain more engaged with the whole treatment process, and all their queries are quickly resolved.
  • The data quality is improved – All the data in these clinical trials are monitored and captured digitally. Hence, any chance of adverse events or problems is highly minimal. The data is shared in real-time with the CROs so that they can learn more about the patient and their lifestyle and tweak their approach accordingly.
  • There is better communication – When the patients are CROs communicate in real-time, there is better collaboration. Thus, the clinical trial process goes on much more smoothly, and there is no miscommunication.
  • Makes the process cost-effective – Another benefit of virtual clinical trials is the cost-effectiveness. Firstly, it reduces the necessity for the patient to travel. This reduces the expenses related to transport. Moreover, it also eliminates the chances of incurring any costs related to missed appointments. In the case of virtual trials, several charges are reduced in the absence of unnecessary appointment scheduling, hospitalization, and much more.
Person using microscope
Person using microscope


Even though virtual clinical trials are in their initial phase of development and have a long way to go, it is definitely promising to see such concepts come up. They definitely have their own challenges that they still have to overcome, however, the positive aspects associated with this form of trial have convinced the world that this is definitely worth pursuing, because it is not only cost-effective but makes the process more simplified than the conventional trials we use.

Moreover, this form of trial benefits the pharma industry as well because it eliminates all forms of error that might have occurred as a result of manual data entry. Sometimes, data is also lost during manual data portability, but that is also eliminated in this type of trial. Along with that, there is no need for paper-based consent, which would further eliminate the chances of delayed approvals since the entire process is done digitally.

In the upcoming years, we might even see virtual clinical trials incorporate several other advanced technologies like machine learning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence to make the trials even more refined and take things even further.

About The Authors

Karan Emery

Karan Emery - I'm a research scientist interested in learning more about how neural activity influences and shapes human behavior. Project design and management, data analysis and interpretation, and the creation and implementation of testing tools are among my specialties. I enjoy coming up with new ideas and coming up with practical solutions to issues that are widely applicable. My colleagues would describe me as a driven, resourceful individual who maintains a positive, proactive attitude when faced with adversity. Currently, I’m seeking opportunities that will allow me to develop and promote technologies that benefit human health. Specific fields of interest include data analytics, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.

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