Mobile Apps and the Future of Clinical Trials 

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Mobile Apps and the Future of Clinical Trials 

In the field of medical research, there are two a pivotal challenges: how to make clinical trials easier, and how to make trials more engaging to encourage individuals to participate.

In fact, finding participants for trials tends to be a relic of the past nowadays. Some medical institutions have already taken all the benefits out of mobile applications for clinical trials.

Nevertheless, a call for utilizing apps for medical research and record is still obstructed by a number of concerns, such as a lack of vendors and inertia of institutions.

The following article outlines the strong points of using apps for medical investigations, as well as the factors that slow down this initiative.

What burdens app development for clinical trials?

Referring to the studies of the preceding year by Premier Research, there are more than 150,000 mobile healthcare apps designed for clinical trials. However, their lion’s share accounts for directory apps only. This means there is a significant minority of more complicated apps that could considerably improve the overall patient experience. How did this happen?

Launching a brand-new game for a smartphone is significantly easier to realize both technically and legally than crafting a mobile app for medical studies, and there are a number of factors that hamper its development.

As a rule, stakeholders run into the following issues when dealing with app development:

  1. In the field of clinical trials, there is a culture that gives priority to written documentation and paperwork over digital recordings.
  2. Crafting an app that meets all privacy and quality expectations in trial research requires a highly developed skill set on the part of the developers.
  3. The overall app development expenses tend to be worth a hefty sum. The reason for this is that many pharmaceutical companies lack an in-house Android or iOS developer. Moreover, not being experienced in app development makes it difficult to know how to negotiate the price of outsourcing to a vendor.

Despite these factors, the Food & Drug Administration of the United States has broken the ice and started collaborating with stakeholders in medical research to clarify the ways mobile applications can make clinical trials more cost-effective. The primary goal the FDA plans to accomplish is the speeding up of the drug approval process.

Moreover, Apple has made its own contribution to app development for clinical trials. Such frameworks as ResearchKit and CareKit help pharmaceutical and research companies clear the barriers that stand in the way of making the patient experience better in clinical trials.


mPower for clinical trials

Credits: mPower

mPower is known as an innovation in patient-oriented clinical trials. It is a smartphone-based study that utilizes a mobile application for monitoring and examining the genesis of varieties in Parkinson's disease symptoms. With the help of mPower, the study has involved more than 9,000 participants.

mPower utilizes a non-traditional method of participant acquisition and onboarding, which allows patients both with Parkinson's disease conditions and a non-Parkinson's control group to join the study. Before a patient’s enrollment, the study provides an explicit decision point that requests the participant's approval on donating the data and using it for secondary research.

The study makes tracking Parkinson's disease symptoms easy and interactive for users. They can do it with the help of a fitness tracker along with activities like memory training games or finger tapping.

The first results of using mPower have shown there is a distinct correlation between medication intake and Parkinson's symptoms. In this way, the results can help the researchers personalize patients’ treatment plans.


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Credits: Clinical Ink

Using SureSource, the researchers can enter data with a stylus during clinical trials. It is designed for providing more accurate data input and avoiding paperwork.

SureSource emulates the process of writing with a pen on a paper. Besides, there are several options for stylus using. A stylus can be touch-enabled, write, and make marks. All the records made with a stylus are permanent and can’t be erased.

Apart from digital data input, the application enables such features as remote monitoring, image capture, and video uploads.

The applications are aimed at cutting down on the risk of transcriptions and reducing time and costs spent on data entry.


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Credits: Science 37

NORA (Network Oriented Research Assistant) is a telemedicine platform which allows individuals to participate in clinical trials via mobile devices. With the help of NORA, researchers can reach  participants anywhere and anytime.

Participants can input data by filling up special forms, text messaging, and video chatting. The variety of ways a participant can add his or her information makes them more engaged in the study.

Summing up

Existing apps for clinical trials serve as compelling evidence of how medical science can become comfortable with modern technologies. As mobile apps make clinical trials easier and more accurate, they have the opportunity to become an integral part of medical research.

If you'd like to learn more about mobile app creation or technology being used to recruit patients, watch our webinar on the topic on-demand by clicking on the button below!

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Helen Morrice

Post by Helen Morrice -

Helen Morrice is a technical writer at IDAP Group. She does her best to craft coverages on app development in a plain language. If you want to keep abreast of the latest trends in mobile app development, please check out and subscribe to her profile on Facebook.

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