September 28, 2021 | Net Health

3 min read

How the 3 Ds—Decentralization, Digitalization and Data—Are Improving Dermatology Clinical Trials

While the COVID pandemic has disrupted many areas of healthcare, there has been no downturn in clinical research. This is especially true in dermatology, where clinical trials are expanding across demographics and product categories.

However, researchers and trial sponsors are concerned about the impact COVID variants will have on in-person trials going forward. This and other issues have prompted them to look for different ways to recruit and retain participants, as well as to conduct trials and analyze data.

A new eBook from Tissue Analytics describes some of the problems facing dermatology researchers and trial sponsors and details solutions.

Problem #1: Not enough trial participants

Dermatology research has long been hampered by the relatively small number of qualified patients available for clinical trials. Studies traditionally have been run at a limited number of sites that are readily accessible to researchers, care providers and participants, which keeps patient pools somewhat homogenous and small.

Technology has now made possible a new approach: the decentralized or virtual trial. In this model, researchers, clinicians and participants use an electronic system and a mobile clinical trial app to relay information back and forth. Prospective subjects can be screened remotely, and they can use the app to report data from their home or other settings. They also can request calls or teleconferences with providers through the app. This approach reduces travel, increases engagement, saves time and increases convenience for all involved.

What makes decentralized trials possible are virtual tools such as smartphone cameras for digital imaging. Clinicians can evaluate skin conditions without being onsite. Patients who may have been unwilling to take part in a study because it involved coming to a clinic now have an alternative; they can take a picture of a suspected lesion with a smartphone and send it to a remote dermatologist.

Problem #2: Lack of participant diversity

Widening the pool of available study subjects solves another problem for dermatology researchers: the lack of diversity in dermatological trials. According to JAMA/Dermatology, a diverse population means greater than 20% racial or ethnic minority participants, yet almost 75% of all study participants are white.1

Virtual trials make recruiting a more diverse participant population easier, especially when researchers utilize one of today’s vast, global, AI-powered databases. For example, Tissue Analytics maintains an ever-expanding skin & wound care database spanning more than 40 countries and millions of data points.

Problem #3: Retaining study subjects

When participants withdraw from trials, the resulting delays are costly and impact morale.

The key to retaining study subjects is minimizing the burdens of participation. Employing user-friendly, technology-enabled platforms eliminates concerns related to travel, missed work, childcare, and COVID exposure. In addition, involving patients directly in their care with tools such as smartphones empowers and engages them, which, in turn, increases compliance and prevents attrition.

Clinical trials that incorporate the 3 Ds meet the COVID-era needs of sponsors, researchers, care providers and participants. Learn more, including how to compile a Virtual Dermatology Trial Toolkit, in our eBook

A New Era for Dermatology Clinical Trials

E-Book | How Digitalization is Advancing Dermatology Clinical Trials

1Charrow A., et al. “Diversity in Dermatology Clinical Trials: A Systematic Review,” JAMA Dermatol. 2017 Feb 1;153(2):193-198. Available at /

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