Clinical Trials

Decentralized Clinical Trials

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Amie Sallah

Published 05 Dec 2022

Decentralized Clinical Trials - Infiuss Health


The term “decentralized clinical trial” is becoming increasingly common in the scientific community, but what does it mean? A decentralized clinical trial is one that is run by a network of physicians and pharmaceutical companies rather than by a single research institution.

The difference between decentralized clinical trials and regular ones lies in their structure: while centralized trials require each participant to undergo an identical procedure at the same facility, decentralized trials are more flexible and allow participants to choose from among different treatment options depending on their needs and preferences.

Decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) are conducted in multiple locations and often in countries where the disease is more prevalent. The trial is conducted at multiple sites and the data is collected and analyzed centrally. The trial can be conducted in a variety of settings, including at home, in hospitals, or in the community.

How do DCTs work?

DCTs are useful for studying patient progress away from the clinic. For example, if you wanted to see how a drug affected patients after they left the doctor's office and returned home, a centralized clinical trial would be difficult because it would require keeping track of every single patient over a long period of time. However, in some DCT models, each patient is responsible for recording data on their own computer or mobile device. This makes it easy to get information about individual patients' progress at any time throughout the study and allows researchers to collect more accurate results sooner than they could otherwise.

DCTs are also useful when studying rare diseases or diseases in developing countries where getting access to medical care can be difficult or expensive. Because there are no hospitals involved in these studies and only one organization needs approval by regulators (i.e., regulators don't need approval from every single hospital), it is much easier for researchers to do research on new drugs without having all the resources available through traditional methods such as centralized clinical trials.

There has been an uptake in decentralized clinical trials and they could be useful when studying patient progress away from the clinic and when enrolling participants who may not be able to travel.

DCTs are a new approach to research that aims to give patients greater access to new treatments. This can be done through the use of digital tools and technologies, such as smartphones and cloud storage, which allow researchers to collect data on patient progress outside of the clinic setting.

Decentralized clinical trials have several advantages:

  • Patients who have difficulty traveling because of disability or health concerns can participate more easily.
  • Patients don’t need to travel all the way back to their home country for every visit, which saves them time and money (and also reduces their exposure to air travel).
  • The collection of high-quality data from participants over long periods may potentially lead to better patient outcomes if they are able to self-report via electronic devices like smartphones or tablets while they are not in hospital/clinic settings where there would normally only be nurses involved with monitoring these kinds of things…

Three main challenges of DCTs 

  1. Lack of infrastructure and resources: This is a concern for participants, who may not have access to the necessary equipment or technology needed to participate in a DCT. The lack of infrastructure can also result in delays in recruitment and data collection.
  2. Lack of communication: One of the main issues faced by DCTs is that there is often no communication between participants, which can make it difficult for them to share information with each other about their experiences and find ways to help one another.
  3. Lack of awareness: Participants may not be aware that they are participating in an international clinical trial or how such studies work. For example, some studies require participants' informed consent before they enter; however, this may not be possible if people don't understand what's happening or don't know how medical research works on such a large scale.


The future of clinical trials is decentralized. This means that the process can be opened up to a wider audience and conducted in real time, with data shared across networks as it is gathered. Decentralization will make it easier for researchers to collaborate on projects, share data freely with one another, and even access funding opportunities from donors who may not have enough money themselves but would like to support research efforts in their community.


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