A few weeks back, I was listening in on a technology presentation for TrialKit’s native mobile app. TrialKit arguably has the world’s most sophisticated form builder for clinical data management. Part of that is due to the advanced technology available on mobile devices (phones and tablets); the other part is that TrialKit’s form builder was designed to create the perfect case report form (CRF) for clinical trials.
During the technology presentation, one of the prospective clients brought up the point that they think their current form builder would save time, as their form builder is “automated.” From that, I gathered that their form builder was the old-fashioned type in which you define your fields and have them placed on the form in a single column. You actually fill out a form to define your fields and you have no – or very limited – say as to how the form is laid out.
I know how these automated form builders work, because I developed one…about 20 years ago! Do you remember the original word processors? Basically, you would create your paragraphs and add them to a list. Then, magically the word processor would lay out your document. Rarely was it exactly what you wanted, but hey, it beat using a typewriter.
Why is it more important to have the perfect form than the perfect document? Because site coordinators will not only have a better experience entering data, they will also enter much more accurate data that will generate fewer queries and save a ton of time. More importantly, the accuracy of the data cannot be measured. We do know, however, that a single mistake can cost thousands of dollars. So, what would hundreds of mistakes cost? Eliminating any chance of inaccurate data far outweighs the convenience of saving an hour or two building a form. Of course, because of the tremendous flexibility of TrialKit, you can build single-column CRFs that do not cleanse the data very well and match your current form builder. However, unlike your current form builder, you can also create the perfect CRF using TrialKit.
One thing we have learned as users of software is that flexibility is always better than limitation. As software evolves, what really is changing is that we are given great flexibility in just how we configure our systems. Look at any piece of software available today compared with 10 years ago and you will notice the biggest change is greater flexibility. Sure, it takes you a little while longer to create that perfect document and get it laid out just right, but it is worth the extra time. Software companies who do not constantly strive to put greater flexibility in your hands are rarely around for the long haul. That is why working with a form builder that was obsolete 10-20 years ago is so limiting that it is costing your studies in both time and money. Each penny we save, each clean piece of data we submit, betters our treatments and society as a whole. So, take the extra time to create the perfect form. If your current system does not allow it…then it’s time to change.