Platform trials like this have great potential beyond the pandemic. There is a lot of interest in how this approach can make it faster and more efficient to find safe and effective treatments for widespread and common illnesses like cardiovascular disease.
They open up the opportunity for groups of researchers to collaborate on the same trial at the same time. This structure also allows trials of different treatments to run simultaneously, all within a common trial framework and really lends itself to using routinely collected NHS data.
Heather Pinches, Head of Clinical Trials Service at NHS Digital says: “Through the NHS DigiTrials programme, we can reduce the cost of bringing new drugs to market and collaborate with clinical trialists to solve some of their challenges like finding and recruiting participants.”
It is not just about better use of NHS data, it is about changing NHS Digital’s approach to working with researchers. NHS Digital is working to streamline processes, improve support for users, and improve services with the needs of trials in mind.
“We are working closely with our Co-Development panel of patients and public, whose advice and feedback is influencing the way in which our services are developed and how we communicate about them,” Pinches said.
“We want to ensure that the public understand that their healthcare data is vital to improving health and care across the country and encourage more people to sign up for trials.
“We want to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds and age ranges to sign up to clinical trials like this, not just during the pandemic but as a permanent improvement. It will give us a better understanding how different demographics respond to treatments and improve health equality for all.”