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The use of virtual reality (VR) technology, wearable technology, and virtual clinical trials can provide researchers with a more convenient way to capture patient data, provide new insights, and make scientific and clinical research more easily accessible for all patients.

Key Highlights

The word “virtual” is making its way across healthcare by bringing new, innovative treatment options to patients.

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Samantha Mineroff
Samantha Mineroff
Copywriter

Virtual reality (VR) technology allows for more efficient and convenient treatment options beyond research, for medical professionals and patients alike. VR’s therapeutic versatility has helped change the way we approach healthcare by bringing advancements in the treatment of mental health, such as neuropsychological therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, and offering new treatment options for cancer and chronic pain.

As seen in a recent study conducted by Yale School of Medicine, VR is now being tested for its ability to provide cancer patients with access to quality therapy and support. Fortell Reality, a VR company with a focus on collaboration between co-workers and peers, partnered with Yale to study the effects of VR technology on cancer patients struggling with anxiety and depression. In this study, patients ages 13 to 30 years old join a VR-based chat room as part of their group therapy. The study aims to show the effectiveness of VR compared to common therapy treatments and is a progressive step towards expanding easy access to healthcare and treatment options for patients who don’t have it.

This study’s inclusion of pediatric patients is important to note. VR, as it has developed, has always targeted children/adolescents, so this is a perfect group to utilize the technology in the setting of clinical trials.

Mark Sorrentino, Vice President of the Center for Pediatric Clinical Development

The study exemplifies not only the advancements of VR, but also the medical community’s recent focus on pediatric patients. Mark Sorrentino, Vice President of the Center for Pediatric Clinical Development at PRA says, “This study’s inclusion of pediatric patients is important to note. VR, as it has developed, has always targeted children/adolescents, so this is a perfect group to utilize the technology in the setting of clinical trials. That said, pediatric patients are a traditionally understudied population, but the medical community is making strides to understand children as medically different than adults. Pediatric oncology clinical research will be expanding significantly later this year with the enactment of the RACE act in August. I am hopeful for what the next few years will bring to our children.”

VR is just one example of how we’re seeing virtual technology in healthcare. The word “virtual” spans across trials and offers convenience in the same ways that VR does—by bringing the research home.

PRA Health Sciences recently partnered with Janssen to create the first-ever fully decentralized, virtual trial to study the heart failure drug canagliflozin (INVOKANA). Patients used their smart devices and computers to provide reflections and assessments as part of the Patient Reported Outcomes without ever having to leave their homes to go to the hospital or attend a doctor’s appointment. Studies like these take advantage of the growth in smart devices, elevating care options for patients participating in the trials.

Because patients are using connected devices, we can collect relevant data continuously, which gives a more accurate understanding of disease progress and improvement. It will be able to provide a better and more reliable understanding of safety.

Dr. Greg Licholai, Chief Medical Information Officer at PRA

Dr. Greg Licholai, Chief Medical Information Officer at PRA, expresses the importance of this: “Because patients are using connected devices, we can collect relevant data continuously, which gives a more accurate understanding of disease progress and improvement. It will be able to provide a better and more reliable understanding of safety.”

These leaps in research and technology reduce the burden on patients, who spend their lives trying to find the right treatment. The interactive technology we’re seeing may even replace commonly used methods and approaches that would otherwise require more time, energy, and money.

PRA is ready and excited to help make clinical research more accessible for all patients with our technology-focused and innovative approaches to research. We are committed to provide convenient treatment options for medical professionals and patients alike.

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