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The Calendar Reads January 2022, but it Still Feels Like March 2020: How Do We Move Forward?

Delve Health wishes everyone a Happy New Year, as it is customary to do. A new year, ushers in new hopes and a sense of renewed spirits. However, with each passing “COVID year” it is increasingly becoming more difficult to see a clear path forward.

The year 2020 will live in infamy. COVID-19 changed the entire world. Life, as we knew it, stopped. What we thought would be “two-week closures” turned into three months of “lockdowns” and “restrictions” and “quarantines,” not to mention volatile stock markets, and is on the verge of a worldwide economic collapse. When things finally did start to open up, it was with new terms that will forever be a part of our lexicon like “social distancing” and “mask mandates.” In our industry, 70% of clinical trials were put on hold with everyone in clinical research, and the healthcare profession at large, shifting efforts to create and test vaccines and anti-viral medications.

The year 2021 seemed to provide the hope the citizens of the world desperately needed. Our elders and the immune-compromised started receiving vaccinations. Despite the heavy burden of the millions of lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic all around the world, with every new age group that became eligible for a shot, our spirits were lifted. It seemed that there just might be light at the end of the COVID-filled tunnel—especially once our school-aged children were eligible too.

The clinical research industry also figured out how to move forward by embracing technologies such as wearables and biosensors to monitor trial participants and patients safely and remotely from home. Clinical research and trials were resuming again, and we all collectively breathed a little easier as everyone believed things were getting better.

However, in 2021 we were also dealt more COVID-19 related blows once the Delta-variant wave spread around the globe; and while we were still reeling, we are now dealing with the very contagious Omicron variant too. Cases are higher than they have ever been and hospitalizations are now at record numbers as well. Most of us can now personally attest to losing more than one family member and/or friend to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, here we are and the calendar reads January 2022. On January 2, 2022, in the United States alone, nearly ONE MILLION COVID-19 cases were reported in a mere 24-hour period. It is a heart-breaking start to a new year, that painstakingly feels like March 2020 all over again.

The clinical research industry is critically important in times like these and therefore, we must forge a path forward. We must take advantage of Hybrid and Decentralized Clinical Trial models to provide a way to keep patients safe at home while simultaneously keeping clinical trial advancements moving forward. Utilizing a mix of technology platforms and solutions to remotely recruit, consent, and randomize patients—but also collect digital endpoint data directly from patients. We need to use every possible solution in our arsenal, including leveraging in-home nurses to collect blood samples and conduct in-home labs. Taking advantage of the infrastructure that already exists and re-tooling it to fit the needs of a “COVID-climate” will reduce the need for in-person clinical trial visits; cut costs; and lead to improved data quality—all of which will help bring pharmaceutical solutions to market more efficiently.

Even in this difficult climate, Delve Health has grown to provide patient 360 views to help improve patient diversity in clinical trials; connect across wearables; on connected devices; and every tool that can exist inside patients’ homes to improve data outcomes. Our artificial intelligence (AI) tools have shown amazing progress in patient compliance by reducing drop-out rates and improving data collection at more accurate times. Delve Health’s partnerships gave us access to over 1 million nurses and global reach to various lab centers for in-home lab testing; more devices to collect passive data directly from patients while they are away from doctors’ offices, and overall help to improve remote patient monitoring.

As we look forward to 2022 and an ending to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am hopeful and even excited to see how the life sciences industry will progress. How we will improve patient diversity? And how will we continue to bring clinical trials closer to patient homes?

It is easy to focus on the negative in the world right now, but Delve Health is choosing to focus on the positive steps we have made within the clinical research industry. In our struggle to keep moving forward, even in the most difficult of times, we managed to continue to innovate and improve patient diversity. We have never forgotten that we are driven by a deep-seated and profoundly personal desire to help save patients’ lives—one clinical trial at a time.

2022 will not be easy, but we are ready to make a difference in clinical research, are you

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