Your Guide to Medical Image Transfer in Clinical Trials

The clinical research sector is not immune from the power of medical imaging. The force of image technology is sweeping through healthcare and CROs are taking full advantage. In this blog we will discuss some of the challenges clinical trial organizations face when handling medical images, how cloud technology can facilitate this future, and what to look for when shopping for an image management vendor.

The Challenges:

Large File Formats: Medical images are large and complex files. As a result, imaging work can be very difficult to move online. Vendor silos can also pose a challenge when sharing information with different sites or locations.

Security: Due to HIPAA regulations, there is a need to keep patient health information secure. Additionally, in the research setting, it is essential to keep tabs on intellectual property. Ensuring this information and data remains private during transport is key to your business.

Cost: The cost of moving images between locations can be substantial to CROs. For organizations that rely on courier services for transfer, there is a charge each time a package is sent through the mail. This method also leads to lengthy delivery times. VPNs are another method of transport in clinical trials. While this is a more sophisticated solution than sending CDs or bulky images, VPNs are costly to maintain and require a complex setup.

The Benefits of Cloud Technology in the Clinical Space:

Cut Costs: Traditional methods used to transfer clinical images are expensive. With cloud technology, courier charges are completely eliminated. Additionally, there is usually no hardware to purchase, or costly investments in infrastructure.

Improve Delivery Times: While sending physical media by traditional mail can take days, cloud-based electronic transfer occurs in real-time. With medical image exchange platforms, it is possible to upload a 100mb set of radiology images in less than five minutes. All of the studies can then be automatically routed to the proper site destinations, greatly reducing lag time in receiving clinical images.

Reduce Human Coding Errors: Minimizing manual data entry as much as possible reduces errors caused by human miscoding. By prepopulating correct values in the de-identification process and automatically replacing tags/ constants, cloud technology vendors can help to eliminate human error.

What to look for in an Image Management Vendor:

Custom Fields: The ability to create custom fields is essential in the clinical trial space. Your image management vendor should make it simple for you to create new fields directly from the platform. The unique fields you create need to become fully integrated into the platform so that you have the ability to search through the newly acquired DICOM tags. With this capability, you can customize the platform to translate exactly to the needs of your clinical trial management.

De-identification: Be sure the de-identification process takes place during the image upload. The hidden fields should be completely anonymized before entering your management system. You should also have the ability to dictate which fields get de-identified, and which fields allow real information to come through. For example, you may want the patient name to be hidden, but might want the ability to see the age of the individual for your research purposes. You should have complete control of this feature with the cloud vendor you choose.

Detail Reports: Data management is key to clinical research. You need the ability to see how many images are being uploaded to your organization in a certain amount of time. The cloud-based platform you choose should make it simple for you to receive this information. A downloadable detail report should include information such as when a new timepoint is updated, viewed, created, or shared with another organization. It is also sometimes useful to have viewable audit trails on the user level.

Imaging will continue to be prevalent in clinical research organizations for years to come. Selecting the right image management vendor for you is a huge and important decision. We hope you found this guide helpful. If any questions come up, do not hesitate to contact us here at DICOM Grid.

Catherine Slotnick, Marketing Manager

About Catherine Slotnick

Catherine Slotnick is a passionate healthcare marketer with a deep interest in the latest & greatest in the Health IT space. As Ambra Health's Director of Marketing, Catherine primarily focuses on creating and sharing thought leadership content in the radiology and informatics space. Catherine graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology & Art History. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and petting dogs that aren't hers.

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