The right tools for the job make all the difference
Ask any artist, surgeon, carpenter or computer scientist what, aside from skill, makes them efficient and effective at their job and their answers will be the same. The tools of the trade are what enable them to deliver the best, most consistent results that their skills will allow. Having the right tools for any given task is critical to success. The more complex the mission, the more specialized the tools need to be.
In imaging trials, sponsors and investigator sites invest heavily in time, money and expertise to design and execute the right imaging protocol. As an example, a state of the art MRI scanner used in an Alzheimer’s trial can cost millions of dollars. Access to such equipment for a clinical trial is extremely expensive. Much training is required to ensure that specific, complex sequences are used to acquire the subject scans so that the central analysis across the subject population is as consistent and precise as possible.
After all of this preparation and meticulous care is taken to get the imaging data ready to submit to the central review service, why shouldn’t we continue to use the best tools available to complete the submission? After all, in many cases the imaging data is the primary or secondary endpoint for the study. Jamming this precious cargo into a courier envelope with a paper form isn’t very innovative and does nothing to ensure that the information is accurate, complete or consistent. Neither does “eTransfer” via FTP/sFTP, which, if it actually works, is no more specialized than a fax machine and provides zero quality assurance. Surprisingly, this is precisely what happens in many imaging trials today. As Abraham Gutman and Veronica Ludensky point out in their article, “Breaking bad: decreasing clinical trial queries in imaging trials,” there are too many opportunities for errors within an image heavy clinical trial and “the current process is flawed.”
A proper set of tools that guides the investigator site through the process of assembling the image data submission, ensuring that the exam is protocol-compliant, protecting subject privacy and eliminating opportunities for errors, data inconsistencies or omissions, is critical to maximizing the value of the image data submission. Having a set of tools that can be tailored to a specific imaging trial’s requirements is all the more powerful. Configuration of the workflow in such a way that the right tool is presented to the user at the right time can make all the difference
Applying the tools of the trade is the best method to achieve favorable results in any endeavor. This is a well-established precept that is no less true in imaging trials. To expect the best possible results using anything less than the best available tools would be like expecting Michelangelo to sculpt David with a chainsaw.