Implementation of a fully remote randomized clinical trial with cardiac monitoring

Commun Med (Lond). 2021 Dec 20:1:62. doi: 10.1038/s43856-021-00052-w. eCollection 2021.


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has challenged researchers performing clinical trials to develop innovative approaches to mitigate infectious risk while maintaining rigorous safety monitoring.

Methods: In this report we describe the implementation of a novel exclusively remote randomized clinical trial ( NCT04354428) of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of the SARS-CoV-2-mediated COVID-19 disease which included cardiovascular safety monitoring. All study activities were conducted remotely. Self-collected vital signs (temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate, and oxygen saturation) and electrocardiographic (ECG) measurements were transmitted digitally to investigators while mid-nasal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 testing were shipped. ECG collection relied on a consumer device (KardiaMobile 6L, AliveCor Inc.) that recorded and transmitted six-lead ECGs via participants' internet-enabled devices to a central core laboratory, which measured and reported QTc intervals that were then used to monitor safety.

Results: Two hundred and thirty-one participants uploaded 3245 ECGs. Mean daily adherence to the ECG protocol was 85.2% and was similar to the survey and mid-nasal swab elements of the study. Adherence rates did not differ by age or sex assigned at birth and were high across all reported race and ethnicities. QTc prolongation meeting criteria for an adverse event occurred in 28 (12.1%) participants, with 2 occurring in the placebo group, 19 in the hydroxychloroquine group, and 7 in the hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin group.

Conclusions: Our report demonstrates that digital health technologies can be leveraged to conduct rigorous, safe, and entirely remote clinical trials.

Keywords: Cardiology; Randomized controlled trials.

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