Cancer research nurses faced many challenges in this period, including providing effective care and managing anxieties related to the pandemic and the safety of patients and staff.
However, many of the changes necessitated by the pandemic, such as remote appointments, electronic (online) consent and trial medicine delivery, are still being utilised today.
Post pandemic, from a personal perspective I have seen an increase the number of patients with advanced cancer being referred for early phase clinical trials. And the biggest challenge is having enough clinical trials open at cancer research centres to be able to offer these patients a clinical trial treatment.
In many cases early phase trials may the last opportunity for these patients to get access to a treatment for their cancer. Often these patients are referred for discussions around taking part in an early phase clinical trial, when the cancer treatments they get through NHS have stopped working.
What are you excited about in terms of the future of trial delivery?
There are a lot of exciting developments within clinical research, such utilising technology to improve clinical assess for patients.
Embedding technology within clinical research delivery will allow better access to clinical trials. Crucially, it’ll also allow patients to have online discussions and use electronic consent without leaving their homes. As well as being more environmentally friendly this also allows friends or family members from anywhere in the world to be part of those discussions and support loved ones, which I personally think dramatically improves the informed consent process.
Additionally, reducing patient visits has the potential to make trials more accessible for patients and reduce travel times and costs. From a clinical trial management point of view, technology will also allow clinical sponsors to monitor how a clinical trial to running remotely.
Patient and public involvement within cancer research is prioritised now more than ever. Having patients involved in shaping how clinical trials are designed and delivered will ensure future clinical trial designs are patient centric.
There is also a huge amount of work going to supporting research nurses to lead on their own research, which in terms of progressing the role of a research nurse is incredibly exiting.
As we start to make new developments in the use of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies it will be really exciting to see how these innovations can improve trial delivery, patient recruitment and ultimately improve outcomes for patients.