A new MPCCC tele-trials pilot project will reduce the need for people with cancer to travel to large metropolitan centres in Melbourne to undertake trial-related visits and procedures.

The pilot aims to leverage the significant clinical trials expertise and established resources at Monash Health, to support the development of clinical trials competencies at Latrobe Regional Hospital.

Telemedicine technology will be used as a communication bridge to exchange information between the two sites to support the delivery of clinical trials.

Clinical trials are more commonly conducted within large metropolitan tertiary hospitals that have research capacity and capability. “Monash Health has a large and experienced clinical trials unit and currently recruits many cancer patients to multiple cancer trials open each year, covering all trial phases and tumour streams”, said Karen Gillet, Oncology Research Manager at Monash Health.

“We want to offer regional patients better access to clinical trials, increase their participation in clinical trials, and potentially increase participation in research into cancers with lower rates of incidence or low survival rates,” said Chief Investigator and Professor Director of Oncology at Monash Health and Monash University, Prof Eva Segelov.

“Latrobe Regional Hospital has an established cancer centre, but does not currently have the capability to offer their patients clinical trials”, Prof Segelov said.

“MPCCC’s tele-trials pilot will allow oncologists from Latrobe Regional Hospital to consent, recruit and manage patients enrolled in clinical trials throughout the Gippsland Region. Clinical trials are complex. Tele-trials will provide the virtual link between the two centres to build capacity and provide a highly supported environment to optimise patient outcomes”, she said.

Clinicians based at Latrobe Regional Hospital will be able to access advice from colleagues located in the primary centre, where required, ensuring the requisite governance and clinical oversight is in place to offer clinical trials from the satellite site.

“Aside from the benefits to our patients, this is an opportunity to develop collaboration and networking between rural and regional and metropolitan centres, improve our engagement in research activities and to further develop our workforce” said co-Investigator and Latrobe Medical Oncologist, Dr Sachin Joshi

Funding provided by the Victorian Department of Health and Humans Services will enable cross-facility Clinical Trial Fellows and Coordinators to be employed, who will work between both Monash Health and Latrobe Regional Hospital.  Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Service is to support the appointment of a project manager.

The project will follow The Australasian Tele-Trial Model: A National Guide for Implementation, published by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA, 2016), and is to commence in early 2019.