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2021: Decentralised Clinical Trial Year in Review

Updated: Feb 9

Last year’s key learning: although traditional site visits are still required for complex procedures and specialised assessments, leading clinical-trial sponsors are increasingly focusing on patient experience, decentralisation services and technology interventions, such as remote monitoring, mobile clinics, and home visits.



By the end of 2021, the number of decentralised clinical trials broke the 1,000-study milestone, representing a 50% growth compared to 2020, according to GlobalData’s analysis. Based on more than 35 specific decentralisation and/or virtualisation elements in clinical registry protocols, the momentum will continue to grow as over 1300 decentralised or virtual clinical trials are forecasted to start in 2022.


The shift towards decentralised and clinical trial activities closer to patients has been enabled by a constellation of evolving technologies, services and changes in patients’ habits.


According to Neira Hajro, a McKinsey partner who led research into shifts in digital habits during the pandemic, in the first half of 2021, ‘close to 70 million more people across Europe used digital services for the first time.’ That’s the equivalent of five years worth of digital growth in a fairly short period of time. Older generations have also started using digital tools for food shopping, talking to grandchildren, and more. This increased familiarity with using digital services for tasks such as ordering groceries have made people more comfortable interacting with healthcare providers via telemedicine and going to virtual doctor appointments.


Patients’ newfound comfort and uptake of digital health technology have led to another development; patient convenience has become critical to enrollment and retention in clinical trials. As patients and physicians’ expectations around patient convenience in trial designs continue to increase, the impact of digital tools that allow investigators to maintain relationships with trial participants without in-person visits will continue to grow throughout the coming years.


As an Independent Site Management Organisation (SMO), FutureMeds is in a unique position to drive patient experience related change and move the digital agenda forward in the clinical trial industry. Our priority is the safety and health of our patients and, by expediting the development of new treatments, we can play a key part in improving the health of the global population.


In 2021, FutureMeds Dedicated Research Sites continued to take an active role in creating access to patients and improving patient experience by using digital technologies, such as electronic consent, telehealthcare, remote patient monitoring, and electronic clinical outcome assessments.


FutureMeds' Dedicated Site Network expanded rapidly in 2021.

FutureMeds completed over 100 trials and initiated over 45 new studies where digital technologies enabled patients to get their condition monitored remotely and helped them maintain their relationships with their nurses and physicians in the trial team without travelling great distances. Digital combined with non-tech driven decentralised clinical trial elements such as remote drug delivery, synthetic controls and home nursing added an additional human touch to FutureMeds’ patient experience.


Building on the strong patient experience foundations, in 2021 FutureMeds grew from 2 sites in Poland to 12 sites across Bulgaria, Poland, UK and Ukraine. This rapid expansion was made possible by the unparalleled SMO experience of the founder team who acquired 3 site businesses and ensured that the standard of care is increasing across the countries.


The leadership team brought on board some of the best teams and highly experienced investigators in the general medicine clinical trials field, who signed over 1500 patients signed for FutureMeds trials, opened COVID-19 unit in Krakow, that enrolled over 30 patients into COVID-19 treatment, randomised over 300 patients into osteoporosis studies, and as a result, elevated FutureMeds sites into the top 3 enrolling sites in therapeutic areas such as osteoporosis, CVD, COVID-19, vaccines and rheumatology.


In 2022, FutureMeds will continue to work closely with partners such as Dealspan Private Equity to grow FutureMeds Dedicated Research Site Network in Europe and invest in improving patient experience to help CROs and pharmaceutical companies to advance medical treatment across the globe.