Abraham Gutman: We needed to figure out a way of using our infrastructure. It was the same infrastructure as for the eBay of radiology, but I needed to have a way of enabling people to send these images using just a software front-end. There were a number of things that you needed to be able to do. One of them was being able to de-identify the images because unlike care environment where it’s very important that a patient record always has the patient name, it is exactly the opposite in clinical trials. Any subject record should not have the patient name because these are blind trials. So, we developed a front-end and we released it on October 31, 2008. I always remember that date because it was Halloween.
Again, luck struck because as we had been developing this, a pharmaceutical company called Glaxo Smith Kline somehow heard about what we were doing. They gave us a call and said, “We’re about to start a very big trial. It’s global. We’re going to have 300 sites. We’re going to be in 30 countries and we cannot collects CDs so we need to use what you have just released.” They became my first customer. That was sometime in November of 2008. I would say that it was the day one of my company.
Sramana Mitra: You decided to go into the pharma direction which was where the big money was.
Abraham Gutman: Correct and that is where we are today. 98% of our work is in that. The other 2% is simply that I have two legacy customers—Brigham and John Hopkins. I can’t go to John Hopkins and say, “Go find yourself another provider.”
Sramana Mitra: In terms of the pharmas, what has the work become today?
Abraham Gutman: First of all, we are now part of roughly 500 to 600 global clinical trials. We’re operating in 72 countries. That’s where sending images come from on a consistent basis. We learned something very important which is that while the transfers are great, one of the things that they pointed to us was that we were enabling this data to be of much higher quality than the data that was being sent previously. We continue to develop functionality that started to check the quality of the data at the source of the data versus checking the quality after the data had arrived at the laboratories.
Checking the quality at the source makes all the sense in the world but that had never happened in clinical trials. This is what my daughters would call the Duh! factor. It’s the equivalent of a computer company deciding to have one vendor do the boards and another the memory. Imagine what would happen if those parts are assembled without checking the quality. Manufacturing companies would not be where they are today if that was the method of operating.